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Mary Doten Accepts Induction into the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame
March 7, 2014
I am deeply honored to be standing in front of all of you. I look around and see so many amazing people and talented players and am truly humbled.
Luck has played a big part of my paddle career. I was first introduced to paddle by no less a player than 6- time National Champion, Hilary Marold, who I knew through tennis. Hilary pulled me out on the court, showed me the game and nearly immediately had me driving an hour each way to the North Shore of Chicago for team competitions. My apprehension at not knowing a lick about paddle was met with Hilary’s assurances that I would do just fine. I guess she was right. What a joy to have her here with Susie and me tonight.
Luck would lead me to some great platform teachers in Hank Irvine and RayJ Murphy. They were instrumental in motivating me to work on my game while still playing to have fun. I was perhaps the first woman player to prefer her backhand. They supported my unusual choice to return with a backhand. Perhaps it had something to do with them seeing my forehand!
I was lucky enough to find a partner in Susie Keane just as she had moved to Chicago and got the paddle bug. She is one of the toughest competitors I have ever encountered and it was a great ride to partner with her for 8 years. One of my fondest memories of our Nationals run with Susie was in a match against Sue Aery and Gerri Viant. Gerri and Sue had just returned from retirement and were back tearing through the draw when we met them in the semis. Gerri was serving and Susie was crushing returns. At a crucial point in the 2nd set, I lost my return mojo. Susie wins her deuce point, I dump the next in the net. Susie smokes her return for a winner, I shank a backhand. It goes on like this for over 8 ads. Each ad, Susie encourages me to just shake it off and go for it. After 7 or so, BAD errors, I look at her and ask, “Really?” and she says, “yes, hit it”. Finally, I connected, and we won that game. On the changeover I told Susie that I couldn’t believe that she wanted me to keep driving. She looked at me and said, “well, one more and I was going to ask you to lob!” That unshakable confidence that she showed, elevated my game and made me a better player.
Once Susie moved her family down to Florida and found a new passion in golf, I was in search of a new partner. I was lucky to find an energetic and fierce young competitor in Chelsea Nusslock. Chelsea never hesitates when I say “YOURS” on any and all dropshots. These last 3 years with Chelsea have kept me in the game and enjoying it every step of the way.
I have been lucky to be a part of a great program in Hinsdale paddle. Great paddle ambassadors like Bill O’Brien, Paul Wiggin and Charlie Usher have spent countless volunteer hours promoting park district paddle and have taught me the importance of giving back to this great sport. Through the parks program we have been able to introduce paddle to several hundred new players in the Hinsdale area. And through paddle I have made wonderful friendships, another stroke of luck. A huge shout out to Hinsdale paddlers Patty, Gillian, Alice, Bruce, Bill, Holly, and Margaret. All are paddle ambassadors in their own right. And, a special thanks to my sisters Lisa and Jane, who came from Colorado and Chicago to be here with me. Heartfelt thanks to you all for making the trek to Pittsburgh and being here tonight.
Backtrack over 30 years and the jackpot of good luck brought me Gary Doten. He was the first guy that I met at Freshman Initiation at Wake Forest; although it was over 3 years until we started dating. Once married we had 3 great kids, Andrew, Scott and Anna, all here tonight. I can still remember the first time I sheepishly asked Gary what he thought of the idea of me playing in Nationals while he stayed home with our then 4 year old and twin 1 year olds. He replied, “yes, definitely, you should play! Can I do anything to help you get ready?” Nearly 20 years later, it is still his response. He has been my biggest supporter and I love him dearly.
And, my last shout out goes to a group of guys that I call my paddle boyfriends, my husband Gary being one of them. We have been playing Friday afternoon paddle in the parks for over 10 years. Last week, one of my boyfriends, Terry Wing, collapsed on the paddle court and died of a heart attack. I know that Terry is looking down now and saying “way to go Mar”. God bless you Terry.