Tributes Are Paid To Coach Mcphee

Friday, October 9, 2020


GEORGE McPhee with the legendary Dennis Van Meer.


#Senior Sports Reporter

#GEORGE McPhee, a former veteran player, who went on to coach a number of the rising young players in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association, passed away at his home on Wednesday morning two days before his 69th birthday today.

#Remembered as a humble man, who could always be seen wearing his signature white tennis outfit, McPhee is survived by his wife Wanda McPhee, son Navarro McKenzie and a host of relatives and friends.

#His wife, recalled that after enjoying 24 years of martial bliss, the only thing her husband didn’t have was wings.

#“He was an angel,” said McPhee, who was looking forward to their 25th anniversary on December 30. “That man treated me like a queen. I never one day had an unhappy day in my life with him. We were just two happy people.

#“Even thought I am grieving, I had so many memories to make me smile, to make me feel warm inside because of him. I will have those memories for the rest of my life. Some people have 50 years of misery, I had 24 almost 25 years of bliss. That’s what I had. So when I say the only thing he didn’t have was wings, I meant that.”

#McPhee got involved in tennis at the age of 17 and went on to the Britannia Hotel courts where he eventually got his professional teaching certificate from Dennis Van Der Meer, the founder of the Professional Tennis Registry and the Van Der Meer Tennis University.

#John Farrington, who also earned his certification from Van Der Meer, said he remembered McPhee, also known as ‘Tight’ because he also had his shirt tucked in his pant and was neatly dressed.

#“I know George from his was at Britannia and then he took over as the head pro at Sandals,” Farrington recalled. “He also had a mustang like my first black mustang. He made sure he kept that clean.

#“He was a good guy. He never really played any tournaments. He hit the ball very good, but he was around with players like Leo Rolle and Bob Isaacs at Britannia Towers before they changed everything. He did a lot of teaching.”

#Highly acclaimed rising young female tennis player Sydney Clarke was one of those players who benefitted from McPhee’s coaching expertise at the Tom ‘the Bird’ Grant Park since she was four years old.

#In an emotional interview from Huntsville, Alabama, where the 18-year-old is now enrolled in her freshman year at the University of Alabama at Arlington (UAB), Clarke said McPhee taught her everything she learnt about the basic fundamentals of the game.

#“He was the best coach I ever had,” said Clarke, who stayed with McPhee until she was eight years old, but they kept their relationship tight knitted no other who coached her afterwards when she attended CR Walker and then Windsor High School where she became apart of the Albany Tennis Academy before graduating this year.

#“At first, I wasn’t always the best student. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to play or I had an attitude and he sent me home and told me to come back another day when I am ready to play. Despite all of that, he still believed in me and he pushed me and he eventually told my mommy to start bringing me every day until I was able to master my backhand and forehand.

#“His training has helped me to improve as a player ever since because he was able to give me the basic fundamentals, a good foundation.”

#Like Farrington, Clarke said if there was another that stood out in her mind about McPhee was his professionalism in his attire that he brought to the court.

#“I always admired how neat I saw him. He would always have his pants ironed and his shirt tucked in. He always looked like a professional,” she noted. “He would always critique my game. Sometimes I would hate it, but it was good for me.

#“He would always pushed me and never let me settled for mediocre. He always knew that I could do better and be better. He was always looking to find ways to make me better. Even when I wasn’t his coach, he would come to my games and watch me play. He was always happy for my accomplishments on and off the court.”

#Immediate past president of the BLTA, Darnette Weir, said when she got the news of his death, she had to reconfirm with someone else in the BLTA who knew him and his family more personally.

#“I met coach McPhee some 13 years ago, but forged a closer relationship with him since becoming mainstream tennis some six and one half years ago,” she stated. “Besides his warm smile and signature shorts he wore whenever he was on the courts, I remember his unwavering support of BLTA tournaments.

#“I would look around in the crowd and could always count on him being there spectating and cheering on his favorite players or his students/former students in his own quiet way. Whether it was the Junior Nationals, ITF Junior Tournaments, Senior Nationals or Open Nationals, coach George would make his way to the National Tennis Center some how.”

#Newly elected BLTA president Perry Newton said McPhee’s passing was definitely a sad loss to the tennis community and he will be missed.

#“George was a very humble man. He was very dedicated. From the time I knew him over the past several years, he was always interested in coaching juniors and those who had an interest in learning tennis,” said Newton, of McPhee, who was stationed at the tennis courts at the Tom ‘the Bird’ Grant Community Park on the Tonique Williams Darling Highway.

#“He was always willing to assist the association in any way he could. He was willing to come out to our tournaments and be a stringer or help to encourage the players in any way he could. I guess the best way for me to describe him would be his dedication to the sport and helping plyers to reach their full potential in the sport.”

#Fellow coach Steve Taylor said over the years, he got to watch and emulate how McPhee conducted himself on and off the court, both as a player and a coach.

#“He was always willing to teach tennis to the youngsters in any area wherever he could get on a tennis court,” Taylor said. “He wasn’t limited to just being at the National Tennis Center. I saw him over the summer teaching in Fox Hill.

#“He was very dedicated. He was very serious. He always said he was on a strict diet. He didn’t eat any bad food. He was a very nutritious guy. He didn’t drink any alcoholic or smoke. He was really keen on coaching the young players.”

#Weir said she often encouraged McPhee to come over to the NTC to coach, but he insisted that he preferred to remain at the Tom ‘the Bird’ Grant facilities, which was a staple for him.

#“He was fierce as a coach on the court with his students, but off the court, he did not like confrontation,” Weir stressed. “He had as quiet nature and always stayed in his own lane. He knew when to speak and when not to speak.”

#Weir said McPhee was loved, well respected and a proud coach to his former students like Philip Major Jr, Iesha Shepherd and Sydney Clarke. Before he got into coaching, Weir said McPhee was a competitive and talented tennis player.

#She said he made his invaluable contributions to the growth and development of the sport of tennis in the Bahamas.

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