© Jen Pottheiser
By Tom LaDue, USTA.com
Indian Wells, Calif. -- Many people are anticipating this year’s American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
When you meet Verdell Adams, you would think he would be too. Adams is just one of 34 captains at this weekend’s 2009 USTA League 4.0 Senior National Championships but how he got here is a whole different story.
In 1968 Adams was a touted outfielder drafted in the 39th round (816th overall) of the Major League Baseball draft by the then California Angels out of Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon.
“Growing up I always wanted to be a Yankee,” laughed Adams who just happened to be wearing a baseball cap with the interlocking N-Y on it. “Both teams scouted me in high school but the Angels grabbed me first.”
Bur instead of signing on the dotted line with the Angels he wanted to do something that meant a lot to him personally.
“I wanted to be the first in my family to go to college,” replied Verdell.
Adams had a letter of intent to play baseball and football at the University of Oregon in 1968, but chose Mount Hood since he had not made his mind up on the draft and didn’t want to be locked in for four years, just yet.
After a year, it was onto Oregon State where while playing spring football in 1970 during his sophomore year, he suffered a debilitating knee injury.
“I had the same knee surgery that Joe Namith had when he injured his knee back in the day,” stated Adams. “The doctors told me that with the severity of my knee injury that playing sports again was out of the question. My response was, ‘that was not an option’.”
In 1973 Verdell graduated with a degree in sociology but being of a competitive nature and missing the competition he picked up the sport of tennis and self taught himself the game which has kept his competitive juices flowing over the years.
“I said to myself…I’m going for this and make it happen.”
And he did, as this is the third time that he has led a team to USTA League National Championships (’04, ’07 and ’09).
This time they are hoping they can bring home the title to the Arthur Ashe Center at Rancho Cienega Recreation Center that has eluded them.
Over the years, it has become harder for Adams to play the game he loves competitively, but now he is giving back where he works at the Fredrick Prince High School, developing the tennis curriculum at the school for kids of all ages.
“I’m introducing the QuickStart play format for the kids in our elementary school and Jr. Team Tennis for our middle school kids,” Adams said with a smile. “Then for the older ones I have instituted the No-Cut program for them.”
But before he headed out to cheer his SoCal team on, we asked him with the American League Championship Series starting the evening whose was going to make it to the fall classic and bring home the pennant.
“I’m rooting for the Dodgers,” he laughed.