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Three generations of tennis kings: the Weinacker family has a tennis legacy that starts with a matriarch

Three generations of tennis kings: the Weinacker family has a tennis legacy that starts with a matriarch
Three generations of tennis kings: the Weinacker family has a tennis legacy that starts with a matriarch

 


Tennis enthusiasts
Jacob, Jay and Jimmy Weinacker. Jimmy and Jay have won nine national father-son championships.

By Lee Hurley

This Father's Day story starts with a mother.

Marcia Weinacker of Mobile passed away in 2015 at the age of 88 after leaving a legacy that few will match.

Marcia held multiple state tennis championships, including singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. She was nationally ranked in singles and played in tournaments both nationally and internationally, including the US Open at Forest Hills and the European Womens Tour.

She won her 18th state title in 2000, at the age of 72.

In 2008, she was inducted into the Greater Mobile Area Tennis Hall of Fame, and the same year she was inducted into the Alabama Tennis Hall of Fame.

In the meantime, she gave birth to nine children Marcia, Bobby, Sidney, Jimmy, Jerry, Mary, Sue, Peggy and John Pau. She taught them all to play tennis on a handball court that her husband had built at the house.

One of those nine children, Jimmy Weinacker, was so good that he played tennis and basketball at Springhill College in Mobile and, fortunately for the sake of this story, made tennis his lifelong passion and career.

Like father, like sons

Jimmy Weinacker has been tennis director at Pine Tree Country Club since 2005. Until the closure of Birmingham-Southern College, he was head coach of the men's tennis team, most recently leading them to a national ranking of 40th and their league conference championship. , where they only lost to the 15th Sewanee.

Tennis fans may also remember Jimmy as the tennis director at Mountain Brook Swim and Tennis.

Among other honors, Jimmy was inducted into the Alabama Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010 and in 2014 served as head coach for the Alabama Junior Davis Cup Team.

But if you ask Jimmy about his proudest tennis achievement, he might offer the nine national father-son championships that he and his son Jay Weinacker achieved.

A 2005 graduate of Mountain Brook High School, Jay played number one on the tennis team all four years of high school and helped win four straight state championships along with Hunter Carney, Trey Walston and doubles partner Hunter Perry.

Jay went on to play scholarship tennis at North Carolina State, where he still holds the school record for most singles wins at 106.

In his senior year he was named an All-American.

Jay isn't the only son of Jimmy's who fell in love with the game. Jacob Weinacker came along nearly a decade later and worked his way to the number one spot on the Mountain Brooks team, which lost the state championship to archrival Vestavia Hills.

Jacob went on to play at Birmingham-Southern and had the kind of success that got him inducted into the Birmingham-Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.

Today, Jay is the head of racquet sports at Birmingham Country Club, where Jacob also works as a teacher. Jimmy, Jay and Jacob talked about tennis and family on a Tuesday in early June.

OTMJ: Did you feel left out as the only one of the nine kids who didn't go to the University of Alabama?

Jimmy: I went to a DKE fraternity rush weekend when I was in high school and had a great time. But then I started thinking about it and realized that the entire time I was in Tuscaloosa, no one had ever called me by name. Three of my brothers were there at the time and people called me Little Womack, Little Peanut or Little Snidely, and I realized that I wouldn't even know who I am if I go to Tuscaloosa!

OTMJ: As a father and coach, tell us about the differences between Jay and Jacob?

Jimmy: Jay and Jacob are both very good athletes, they just have different personalities. Jay is going to put his foot on your throat and crush you.

Jacob is more of an emotional person, but as he studied he became a fierce competitor. Sophomore year we played Rhodes and sponsored a field in Marcia's honor at Birmingham-Southern. He was playing on that pitch and was down 4-1, so I sit down to talk to him and he turns to me and says, I have this dad. He then won five games in a row to win on his mother's court.

OTMJ: What was it like being coached by Jimmy?

Jacob: After my freshman year at Birmingham-Southern, my dad asked me one night, what would you think if I became your coach? I said, 'Dad, you've coached me since I was nine years old, why not three more years?' So we got to finish my college career together.

Jay: At tournaments I would play the matches and then run off with friends, but Dad always went back to watch other players to find out how they played, to see how he could help me and others. He would use those trips as fun for us and as part of our tennis journey, but also to become a better coach.

OTMJ: Did Jimmy force tennis on you?

Jay: Jimmy did a good job with all four of us guys, keeping us well informed. He insisted we try different sports. I appreciate our love of tennis because Jimmy didn't burn us out. One of Jimmy's best quotes is that tennis is a marathon, not a sprint.

Jacob: I can't fall back on that. I saw tennis as a way to spend time with Dad. Being a tennis pro can be a time-consuming job, sometimes working late into the night, so I found out at eight or nine o'clock that if I wanted to see Dad, that meant a tennis clinic.

OTMJ: Did you know that you wanted to make tennis your profession?

Jacob: After playing college tennis, I knew I didn't want to have a desk job and I saw how good Dad and Jay were at teaching and how much they enjoyed it. I really enjoy it too.

Jay: After 22 straight years of playing tennis and after college, Dave Oberman, a great guy and friend of Jimmys, let me test the waters at Merrill Lynch. I started in March and in October I looked out the window on the 20th floor of the Wells Fargo building (now Shipt) and it was 75 degrees and beautiful outside and I called Jimmy and said. Do you have a place for me? He said: Of course, come on.

OTMJ: Who are the most famous players you have played against?

Jay: Jimmy and I played Mike and Bob Bryan in an exhibition match at the convention center in Mobile.

Jimmy: We come out of the tunnel and we shake hands with the Bryan brothers and they kind of knew who (we) were and asked, did you hit balls? Before we could answer, the announcer said: No warm-ups! So here we are about to play against the number one partner in doubles without a warm-up.

Jay: So Lefty Bob Bryan serves for dad and dad likes to run around his backhand to return a forehand. Bob cuts this serve up and Dad keeps trying to step around and the serve keeps spinning away from him and Dad falls down. Before he can get up, Bob Bryan has jumped over the net, sprinted over and picked Dad up from the field and asked if he was okay.

Jimmy: So now the brothers think they have to take it very easy. Then Jay hits a cannon serve and ace Mike Bryan. So at least they realized they had to try. They beat us 10-4, but we gave them a game.

Sources

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2/ https://www.otmj.com/three-generations-of-tennis-royalty-the-weinacker-family-carries-a-tennis-legacy-that-begins-with-a-matriarch/

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