A look back at the team that helped revive the Wake Forest men’s tennis program

Buck Rish, a Wake Forest University alumnus who played on the 1953-54 tennis team, holds a copy of the 1953 Howler, the Wake Forest University annual. The school was reviving its tennis program that season after a four-year hiatus due to World War II.

Rish cracks open the yearbook to reveal a two-page spread featuring two teams on the opposite ends of the success scale.

On the left, a page dedicated to Wake Forest’s fledgling men’s tennis team, which included Rish.

“The school was notorious for golf,” Rish said last week. “Arnold had come back from the Coast Guard (that year), and this play of pictures has been a real source of humor through the years because this is tennis, this is golf.”

As Wake Forest tennis soared to unprecedented heights over the past few weeks — winning the men’s team national championships and the men’s singles title — it stirred up memories for Rish of his time at Wake Forest.

Rish, 84, joined the tennis team in 1953, the school’s first attempt to rekindle the tennis program after a four-year hiatus, the result of young men being shipped off to service in World War II.

It was as time of transition for the university. Wake Forest was shifting from its namesake town in Wake County to Winston-Salem, a move completed in 1956. The Atlantic Coast Conference was just forming, too, coming into existence in 1953.

Memory and Weaver were the driving force behind the effort to field a tennis team for the 1952-53 season. With Wake Forest planning to move into the ACC, it was time for the program to return.

The tennis team played its first season in Wake Forest’s exit year (1952-53) from the Southern Conference. The team went 3-3, according to stories in the Old Gold and Black, Wake Forest’s student newspaper.

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