History of the Magic Express Tennis Club
How It All Began..........................................by Larry Greene, Founding Member
In January 1986, while coaching youth basketball in South Durham Youth Athletic League (SDYAL) at W.D. Hill Community Center, located on Fayetteville Street in Durham, two youth coaches, Larry Greene and James Gaddy, were discussing the game of basketball then mentioned playing tennis when the weather got warmer. The basketball league ended in April and the two begin hitting tennis balls during the week and on weekends. On the tennis hitting days Larry and James invited their personal friends to join their weekly routine. This tennis circle of friends grew from two guys wanting to learn and understand the game of tennis.
The tennis friendships of those listed below led to the formation of Magic Express Tennis Club
METC Members Spring of 1986
Ronald Fields, Cliff Baldwin, Willie Hodge, Thomas Buffaloe, Roy Freeman, Claude Mayo, Charles Daniel, Merlin English, Larry Greene, Willie Steven, Migel Rasheed, James Gaddy, Brian Moore, Roosevelt Ruffin, Manassas Yunmbam
This group of friends started talking about forming a club (with no place to have a meeting) James Gaddy offered the use of his home basement located on Burgess Lane off West Cornwallis Road.
The first meeting was to elect club officers. No one wanted to be president, so everyone agreed that James Gaddy should become president, after all we were meeting at his home in his basement and we did not want to lose or move from our nice clubhouse.
METC First Club Officers
Vice PresidentLarry Greene ParliamentarianClaude Mayo
Formation of Club Name
The next task was to name the tennis club, many names were suggested, however, only two were considered; Midnight Express by Roy Freeman (name of a television program) and Black Magic by Merlin English (license plate name on his black Mazda RX6). No one liked or agreed on the choice of names, Brian Moore, said let’s go with Magic Express and calls it a day and everyone agreed and voted yes.
Subsequent club meetings led to rules to govern METC and find a city park to play tennis that did not charge a court fee after 5:00 pm. Moreene Road Park (off Hwy 15-501 Bypass) and Sherwood Park (Cheek Road) were the only city parks with lighted tennis courts and no fees. Roy Freeman, suggested the club use Sherwood Park because it was very close to his home and no one was using the courts. To ensure exclusive use of Sherwood Park tennis courts, Larry Greene met with Lydia Lovelle, Durham Park and Recreation Department Basketball and Tennis Coordinator to work out a verbal agreement which simply stated the club would look after the park in the evenings and on weekends and offer free tennis lesson to youths in exchange to not pay tennis court fees. Sherwood Park became home for Magic Express and the rest is history.
Durham County Main Library
In the beginning, members of Magic Express Tennis Club greatest challenge was not hitting tennis balls, it was “What are the rules for the game of Tennis”. Except for Brian Moore and Roy Freeman (The Jersey Boys), the rest of us had no formal tennis training; therefore, our club mission was to read any and all books on Tennis. Durham County Main Library became our friend and all club members were challenged to read books, understand and learned the rules and share their tennis knowledge. Also, the library became the club’s new meeting place on Sunday afternoons.
First Tennis League and Championship
In the summer of 1986, the club formed its first tennis league with fall playoff matches at Sherwood Park and first club championship game was held the day after Thanksgiving, at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) tennis courts between Larry Greene and Migel Rasheed. The championship match had multiple chair empires and line officials (club members served as officials to demonstrate their tennis knowledge). Despite all the bad calls by our “no-rules” and unprofessional officials, Larry Greene won the championship in three sets. Because of limited funds only the championship winner received a trophy (in later years that changed).
Share your Christmas / Charitable Giving
During 1986 Christmas season, Larry Greene, selected a single parent family with three kids tag from WTVD Share your Christmas Tree at Northgate Mall and donated new bikes, toys and other gifts on behalf of the METC. From this effort started METC annual charitable program of giving back to the community.
As 1986 came to a close, it was hard to believe that a group of guys became friends, formed a club to learn how to play the game of tennis, and created a league with a playoff ladder and championship. We started with 14 guys and ended the year with 15 members.
In the spring of 1987, the word get out that a group of guys were playing tennis in Sherwood Park and because of our relaxed style of playing, the club membership just grew. Below are name of some of the new members.
Norman ‘Skip’ Burnette
Arelia Bynum, Colette Malone, Sigrid, Barbara Gault, Brenda Newman, Angela Allen, Linda Goins, Bertha Rogers, Sarah Burt, Effie Jefferson, Karen Simmons, Bridgette Cowan, Cynthia Jones, Cheryl Stewart, Wynona Gee, Anna Mercer-McLean, Bernie David-Yerumo, Thelma Waller
First Magic Kids
Andrea Bynum,John McLean IV, Richard McKenny, Christina McLean, Ashley Rodgers,Tanya Gorham
Magic Express Tennis Club Past Presidents
James ‘Butch’ Robbins.................1992-1993
Linda Goins...................................1995-1996 Ken Gibbs.....................................1997-2000