Gillette takes over at NE Tennis Complex
NEW LEADER AT TENNIS COMPLEX Northeast Park Tennis Complex tennis director Kevin Gillette (right) and his daughter, Madison (left), watch junior players warm up on the courts. Gillette took over the directing duties for the complex about three weeks ago. Photo by Tony Krausz/The Meridian Star
By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 12, 2003
There's a new man casting a watchful eye over the tennis courts at the Northeast Park Tennis Complex.
California native Kevin Gillette took over the tennis directing duties at the 10-court facility about three weeks ago.
The full time tennis instructor since 1989 has worked in similar capacities in Louisiana and Alabama before making his way to the Queen City.
Gillette, who started working as a tennis teacher at the age of 15, brings a vast array of tennis experience to the Northeast Tennis Complex.
He has played collegiate tennis as a member of the Long Beach State 49ers squad, and he spent about a year on the USTA Challenger circuit playing smaller professional tennis tournaments, along with playing in Europe.
The former 49er began to focus on tennis when he was 12 years old.
Growing up in Redland, Calif., the young Gillette was exposed to tennis by his father, who was an active player, and one prominent name in the world of college tennis.
Not only did the new tennis director achieve his goal of being an All-American, he was also a member of a very successful team at Long Beach State.
In his senior year of 1987, Gillette, who specialized in doubles play at Long Beach State, was a member of the men's squad that achieved the No. 2 national ranking in tennis.
The 49ers notched wins over such prominent programs as UCLA, Stanford and Clemson.
Gillette helped Long Beach State hand UCLA its first loss in 49 matches in his senior year.
In a doubles match, Gillette and his partner battled back from a 5-2 deficit in the third set for a 7-5 victory.
The duo went on to win the match 5-4, and the 49ers were pushed up to the No. 2 spot in the national rankings.
After graduating from college, Gillette tried his hand at the professional level because of the encouragement of two future U.S. Davis Cup players.
Gillette found most of his success on the tour as a doubles player in Europe playing some of the USTA's smaller tournaments.
The overseas playing days also provided the tennis player plenty of new experiences.
Once while playing in Bologna, Italy, Gillette was relieved of his money when what he thought was a shortcut turned out to be a wrong turn.
On the court, Gillette said one of his most memorable pro matches occurred in Viga, Spain.
He teamed up with Thomas Carbanel of Argentina, who later played on the Argentine Davis Cup team, in a match against two Latin America players.
Gillette and Carbanel earned the crowds support, and after they dispatched of their foes, the fans flocked to the two players.
But Gillette doesn't bring just stories of his playing days to the hardcourts of Meridian.
While he is still settling in to his new home and surroundings, Gillette said he already has one goal set for city's tennis landscape.
With 24 years of teaching experience, the tennis players of Meridian should be in good hands with Gillette.