SPRINGFIELD – The Park Commission, in a unanimous vote, has named the newly restored tennis courts at Forest Park in honor of Jerry Radding, a now-retired, longtime sports writer of the Springfield newspapers who spent countless hours at the courts.
“Dad is so thrilled,” said Neal Radding, reached for comment on Thursday. “The Forest Park tennis courts meant a lot to him. He spent so much time there – he practically lived there. If he was not working, or covering a game, he was playing tennis at Forest Park.”
Brian Santaniello, chairman of the Park Commission, and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said the city had received many letters asking for the courts to be named in Radding’s honor, and are very happy to honor his legacy.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Santaniello said regarding Wednesday’s vote. “The man has given so much to the game of tennis through his articles in the Springfield newspaper, and personal play on the courts.”
Ron Davis, who had founded the Tennis Friends Classic in Springfield in 1978, led the move to name the courts after Radding. The hardtop courts were refurbished and reopened to the public in September.
Davis said he was “pleased and excited that they recognized Jerry’s achievements and standing in Western Mass. Sports – tennis and basketball.”
Radding, who is now 91, and lives in Longmeadow, wrote for the Springfield newspapers for 42 years before retiring in 1991. His sports writing included the tennis column “Off the Racquet” in the Sunday Republican.
Neal Radding, of Fairfield, Conn., said his father’s “true love” was tennis, and the son spent his years growing up watching his father play the game and playing tennis with him
“We couldn’t be happier,” Neal Radding said. “We thank the town for considering dad and choosing him. He really gave his life to the game of tennis. We have a lot of memories of the courts – great memories.”
Jerry Radding was born in West Springfield and later lived in East Forest Park in Springfield for many years before moving to Longmeadow, said his daughter, Rachel (Radding) Kagno.
She also referred to her father’s true love being the game of tennis, saying he had won many medals at the Mass Senior Games, and played tennis regularly with friends at Forest Park.
“In addition to writing about tennis and playing, Jerry also gave his time on a variety of boards, including the Honors Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Board of Directors of the Springfield Tennis Club,” Kagno said.
Sarno said it was “very appropriate” to honor Radding’s legacy by naming the courts in his honor. No other names were submitted to the Park Commission for consideration, but Sarno in June had praised both Radding and Springfield native and tennis professional Tim Mayotte as worthy of consideration.
A clay court at Forest Park is honors Mayotte, who made the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1982 and the Australian Open in 1983, and won a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
As a sports reporter, Radding had covered Mayotte from Mayotte’s days playing tennis at Cathedral High School in Springfield and throughout his professional tennis career, Kagno said.
The naming of the courts as the Jerry Radding Tennis Center is “a perfect legacy for a man who has given so much of his life to the sport of tennis in Springfield,” Kagno said.