Jack Toler and Shun Quon
© Jen Pottheiser
By Tom LaDue, USTA.com
Indian Wells, Calif. -- In the age of the internet, it was a newspaper that helped reunite two long lost friends.
Jack Toler and Shun Quon both grew up in Inverness, Miss., with a population of 1,000, back in the early 1950’s. They were four years apart in high school but still good friends. Both played tennis on the high school team, but once Toler graduated high school in 1964 they lost touch with each other. That is until this weekend.
“If Jack was sitting at the table next to me right now, to be honest I wouldn’t even know him,” laughed Shun. “I really not kidding!”
A few months back, Quon’s team won the Northern California 4.0 Senior Sectional event along with the rights to represent the section at the USTA League 4.0 Senior National Championships in Indian Wells, Calif.
To this day Quon, who now calls Saratoga, Calif. home, still keeps up with the news back in Mississippi by having a hardcopy subscription to their weekly hometown paper, The Enterprise Tocsin, delivered to him on the West Coast.
While reading his hometown paper one day, he saw that Jack’s team had won the Southern Section championships for the right to go to the Nationals.
“I cut the article and called an old high school friend, Rose Murphey who still lives in Inverness, to tell her about the article and asked if she had seen Jack recently,” replied Quon.
“My ninety-one year old mom, who still runs the local grocery store back home sees Jack about once a week when he comes in, told him that I was also heading to the Nationals and we would get the chance to see each other again,” he added.
Both were planning on searching each other out at the player party on Thursday night but Toler arrived into town late so both had to wait until the next day.
On Friday morning, Toler was the first to arrive to the courts and was anxious to see his old pal.
“I was hoping I recognized him when he got here,” Toler said. “It’s been 45 years since we both saw each other. I got his number before I left but I have to admit that I lost it.”
Shun felt the same way and was looking forward to the long-awaited reunion as well.
According to Quon, Toler was asking some of his Northern California teammates if he was there. There was one distinguishing trait that helped Shun identify his friend.
“I recognized Jack’s southern accent. You couldn’t mistake that, even after all these years,” laughed Quon. “Once we met up, I still couldn’t believe it was Jack….the last time I saw him was back in high school.”
Both of their respective teams are in different flights so they still have the potential to meet in the playoffs on Sunday if everything falls into place.
“I’m looking forward to catching up on the last 45 years,” stated Toler.
If both of their teams fail to make it to Sunday’s semifinals, Quon and Toler will play a singles match for fun and old time’s sake.
“Who would have thought that the after forty-five years it would take the National Championships for two old friend’s paths to cross once again,” laughed Quon. “If this doesn’t show you the power of tennis I don’t know what does.”
Before this weekend, Shun and Toler last saw each other in 1964. Here are some the facts and events that occurred around the world that year:
- The first Ford Mustang car was introduced.
- Gas cost 30 cents a gallon.
- A U.S. Postage stamp cost – a nickel
- The Beatles vault to the #1 spot on the U.S. singles charts for the first time, with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," forever changing the way popular music sounds to Americans, also starting the British Invasion in America.
- Merv Griffin's game show Jeopardy! debuts on NBC; Art Fleming is its first host.
- The Rolling Stones release their debut album, The Rolling Stones.
- Nelson Mandela and 7 others are sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa, and sent to the Robben Island prison.
- Walt Disney's Mary Poppins has its world premiere in Los Angeles. It will go on to become Disney's biggest moneymaker, and winner of 5 Academy Awards, including a Best Actress award for Julie Andrews, who accepted the part after she was passed over by Jack L. Warner for the leading role of Eliza Dolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady. Mary Poppins is the first Disney film to be nominated for Best Picture.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.