Courts dedicated to former coach Paulson

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

A homemade sign made it official, but anyone who grew up playing tennis at Wescott Field in the last four decades knows that they've always really been the Keith Paulson Courts.

Before their final home match of the season, the Packer tennis team presented the family of the late AHS tennis coach with a sign reading "Keith Paulson Courts" crafted by eighth graders from Ellis Middle School, where Paulson used to teach social studies. The sign now graces the courts that he used to play on with neighborhood kids every summer, only two blocks away from the house where his wife Lois still lives.

In his 27 years as a coach, there was little Paulson didn't achieve. His teams won state titles in 1969 and 1982. He was nominated for National High School Coach of the Year in 1980. He is a member of three different Halls of Fame. He was one of the top USTA doubles players in the region.

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Yet he is probably best remembered for the way in which he nurtured the game he loved.

"He laid the foundation of tennis in Austin, and he did it in such an unassuming manner," said former player and current AHS head coach Rayce Hardy.

"For three decades, kids in Austin who learned tennis learned it from him," said Paulson's son Tom.

"Sharing and teaching tennis was so much fun for him, and I'm glad he was able to know (about having the courts named after him) before he died," recalled his wife Lois.

Even after he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1991, Paulson coached Austin for another year before handing the reins to Jeff Anderson. He was still attending AHS girls' team matches last fall before his death.

The courts now stand as a tribute to his belief that tennis is a great sport that can be enjoyed over a lifetime, a creed he himself lived and taught, and that will continue to be passed onto future generations of Austin youth.