Sunday, January 14, 2018

Good as Gould: Stanford legend set to retire at 80

Dick Gould will retire Monday after 57 years at Stanford as a student, the men's
tennis coach and the director of tennis. Photo courtesy of Stanford Sports Information
   I hadn't seen Dick Gould in more than a quarter century.
   Twenty-seven years, to be exact.
   After covering his team in 1976 for the Stanford Daily and graduating the following year, I worked at various newspapers around the country and in Japan before joining my hometown Sacramento Bee in 2000. 
   Four years later, I called him to request an interview for a Bee story on his upcoming retirement after 38 years as the Stanford men's coach and a record 17 NCAA team titles. 
   Surely he had forgotten me. 
   Not Dick Gould.
   Once you play for Gould or cover his team, you are forever part of the Stanford family, as far as he is concerned.
   In the Bee story, UC Davis women's coach and former Stanford All-American Bill Maze recalled a dinner celebrating Gould's retirement from coaching. Many of Gould's former players addressed the 800 guests.
   "To the guy, they said, 'Anytime something important happens in my life, the first note I get is from coach Gould,' " Maze said.
   Gould, still robust at 80, will retire a final time Monday after 57 years at Stanford as a student, the men's coach and the director of tennis.
   Beginning in 2009, I saw Gould every summer during the Bank of the West Classic on the WTA tour at Stanford. His office was next to the media work room. And every year, he would make me feel as if I was the greatest journalist since Woodward and Bernstein.
   "He's incredibly optimistic and positive," Maze, John McEnroe's doubles partner in the legend's one year at Stanford (1978), told the Bee. "He's always looking on the bright side. I was a somewhat tortured, morose person (at Stanford) ... life was tough. One day, Dick pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, Billy, people are going to treat you the way you come off. Give 'em a smile.' I didn't listen to much back then, but I listened to that."
   In 2012, I had the pleasure of traveling to the Australian Open with Gould and his charming wife, former Stanford women's coach Anne (Hill), on a group tour organized by Tennis Ventures.
   One day, television commentators and former touring pros Patrick McEnroe and Justin Gimelstob visited our suite at Rod Laver Arena. McEnroe played for Gould and Gimelstob for rival UCLA.
   McEnroe popped in for only a few minutes to shake some hands before returning to his ESPN duties. But Gimelstob had time to field questions from Gould and talk some tennis.
   Recalling UCLA's matches against Stanford, Gimelstob quipped about Gould: "He'd say, 'It's such an honor to compete against you.' Meanwhile, he's got 42 All-Americans, and our guys are throwing up in the bathroom." 
John McEnroe, shown with Dick Gould, won the 1978 NCAA singles title
in his only season at Stanford. McEnroe had arrived on campus as a Wim-
bledon semifinalist. Photo courtesy of Stanford Sports Information 
   The 17 NCAA team titles are just the beginning of Gould's accomplishments.
   For 35 years, every four-year player coached by Gould earned at least one NCAA championship ring.
   Gould has coached:
   --Ten NCAA champions in singles and seven in doubles.
   --Fifty All-Americans.
   --Thirteen different Grand Slam champions in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
   --Nine players who reached the top 15 in the world in singles, including No. 1 John McEnroe.
   --Fourteen players who cracked the top 10 in doubles.
   --Seven players who climbed to No. 1 in doubles, including twins Bob and Mike Bryan.
   --Sixteen Davis Cup players.
   --Eight Olympians.
   --Eight players who reached at least the round of 32 at Wimbledon in 1982.
   --Four players who advanced to at least the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1983.
   Wait, there's more. Gould:
   --Raised $18 million to build the Taube Family Tennis Center.
   --Initiated major college indoor matches in 1974 that later drew the biggest college crowds in history (15,000 fans for two-day events).
   --Acquired one of the nation's first electronic scoreboards in 1983.
   --Established the first personal seat licensing program in 1986.
   --Wrote a best-selling tennis instructional book ("Tennis, Anyone?").
   --Has been heavily involved in charity and the East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring Program, which provides one-on-one academic tutoring and group tennis instruction to underprivileged children.
   Gould was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and a strong case can be made for his enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
   For all of Gould's success, though, winning wasn't paramount.
   "Dick was always talking about (playing with) class," Maze told The Bee. " 'We have a big match today. Win or lose, let's play with class.' I coach the same way. It's about the process, not the results. No one is more competitive than Dick, but he made it clear we were not going to be jerks out there. He would go up to (opposing players) and shake their hand."
   Now it's time to shake Gould's hand.

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