NCAA Womens Tennis

More Than A Coach – Women’s Tennis — Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

More Than A Coach – Women's Tennis — Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

By: Jon Cooper

Rick Davison always knew he’d find his calling on the court.

He just expected to find it on the basketball court, not the tennis court.

Over four-plus decades, the Miami, Fla., native followed a passion for tennis to become a two-time all-American at Florida International, a trailblazing coach at Georgia Tech, then a player-development guru throughout the South with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) of Georgia.

His thirst to master tennis came while playing basketball on a hot summer day at Miami’s Moore Park, inspired by his literal thirst.

[Davison’s daughter, Danielle, serves as his primary communicator after he experienced multiple strokes in 2016.] “When my dad was a teenager, he used to play basketball at Moore Park, and one day he wanted to go drink out of the water fountains,” said Danielle. “Bobby Curtis was the director at Moore Park, and he said, ‘If you want to drink from the water fountains, you have to be a tennis player.’ So my dad and his friends were like, ‘Okay, we’ll play tennis.’ So he started playing tennis and was pretty good at it.”

“At the time, he was more of a basketball player than he was a tennis player,” agreed Jean Desdunes, a former Georgia Tech men’s tennis head coach (1988-98) who’s been friends with Davison since both attended Miami’s Archbishop Curley High School.

Desdunes, currently an assistant coach for Princeton’s women’s tennis, continued, “he really fell in love with tennis and quickly got a lot better at tennis than he was at basketball, and he eventually decided to play tennis instead. He was very natural. He had a very live arm, and the ball just came off his racket from day one. He loved to hit it. He blasted.”

Through his association with the game and with Curtis, an influential figure on the Florida tennis scene, Davison met tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who taught clinics at Moore Park, and was offered a scholarship to Florida International, where he twice earned all-America honors.

In college he was ranked No. 5 in NCAA Division II doubles. After he played pro for 2.5 years, then eventually retired from pro tennis and moved to Atlanta, where he became an active tennis pro in the tennis community. In 1986, he got his big break as a coach, as Georgia Tech hired him to lead its women’s tennis program, making him the program’s third head coach, its first male coach, and first African-American head coach.

“At the time, to have a black, male head…

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