Bubba and his 'Bama Babes at the 2012 USTA League 3.5 Adult National Championships held October 5-7 at the Reffkin Tennis Center, in Tucson, AZ.
© Jennifer Pottheiser
By Melissa Krueger, Special to USTA.com
TUCSON, Ariz. — Looking around the tennis courts at the 3.5 Adult National Championships, it's easy to see that people are drawn to Bill "Bubba" Bussey.
Maybe it's because he has a nationally syndicated morning talk show. Or maybe it's because he has that Southern charm. Regardless, he always seems to be surrounded by people.
In Birmingham, Ala., from where Bussey and his team hail, he hosts the morning talk show The Rick and Bubba Show, with his friend from his school days.
"We used to goof around and terrorize our teachers and all that stuff," Bussey said about his relationship with Rick Burgess.
He and Burgess have been working on the show together for about 18 years. At first Bussey was an engineer at a station that needed a morning talk show host. Burgess became that host. After a while, Burgess and Bussey started hosting the show together.
Now, Bussey said, they are on about 70 stations from Alaska to Florida, all over the nation. And starting next month, they will be on TV each morning on the rebirth of The Nashville Network (TNN).
"We have a lot of fun doing the show," Bussey said. "We talk about sports, but it's not a sports show; we talk about politics, but it's not a political show; we talk about spiritual issues, but it's not a spiritual, Christian show."
As for tennis, Bussey is on the courts without his morning show counterpart.
He began playing tennis about six years ago after he went on an anniversary trip with his wife. She wanted to hit some balls around on the court, but she couldn't return any that he sent her way.
Bussey told her, " 'This isn't any fun.' That kind of made her mad, so she went and took some tennis lessons."
A few weeks later, she informed him that she was on a USTA team and would go on to captain her team. She took her 2.0 team to state shortly after that, but she told Bussey that she needed some motivation to win it. He told her he would take her to the US Open in New York if she won.
"I thought it was a safe bet because I didn't think they would win," he said. "Of all things, she ended up winning it."
After seeing her success, Bussey decided to begin playing and has since brought together his own team, which he categorizes as a "hodgepodge" of players.
"I got tired of playing against a lot of them (at weekend tournaments)," he said of his teammates.
Bussey's team, Net Patrol, has been successful so far in its "very competitive" league in Birmingham, which is comprised of 13 teams.
But it's a first for the team to compete in the USTA Nationals, an experience their wives did not take lightly. Many of them wear their pink "Bubba's 'Bama Babes" t-shirts to support their husbands on the team.
"They're trying to be supportive in their own creative way," Bussey said of the "Babes."
"Wish we could have played a little better for them," he laughed.
Bussey’s team that is representing the Southern section will not be able to win its flight this weekend.