Growing Up with the Game: Marcus McCree
“We’d grab our parents’ racquets and an old can of balls. Some of them were chewed up by dogs, but grabbed whatever we could find. We’d go right to the courts, and we’d smack the balls back and forth.”
Marcus McCree remembers those days well — the days when he would grab his father’s Wilson T2000 racquet and head across town with his friends in suburban Washington D.C. to play some tennis.
“That was a long, long time ago,” he said with a laugh. “All those years later, I’m still playing.”
McCree, now an avid USTA League tennis player who lives in Macungie, Pa., has had quite the journey through his years.
McCree first became serious about tennis in high school. Completely self-taught from watching his father play, he competed in all four seasons of his high school career, lettering on the varsity team each of those years.
“My dad worked two jobs, and we didn’t have money for lessons or any fancy equipment,” he said. “But we had the courts nearby that we could get to, and eventually my friends and I got pretty good at it.”
On top of being a good player, McCree simply loved the game growing up, and the relationships that came with it.
He went to college and eventually joined the US Army, where he was a Tank Platoon Leader and Armor Officer. He served in South Korea and Fort Hood, among other locations, during his four-year military career.
“I didn’t get to pick up a racquet once during that time,” he said. “But when I got out, that changed. I got back into it.”
McCree was about 30 years old when he picked up a racquet again, and at that point, his career had him traveling around the northeast. He settled in Pennsylvania, where he began playing tennis even more frequently.
These days, McCree competes on a number of USTA League teams with friends, and plays mixed-doubles with his life partner, Julie Miller. The two met eight years ago when they were set up as doubles partners in a mixed-doubles league.
“On and off the court, we are a team,” he said. “We’ve played lots of USTA matches together. Being together with her is just a lot of fun.”
“We’ve kicked a little bit of butt on the tennis courts, too,” he added with a laugh.
McCree plays most of his indoor tennis at Winning Touch Tennis in Allentown, and competes outdoors at courts all over Macungie. He said he’s always looking for new players to connect to local leagues, and loves meeting new friends on the tennis court.
USTA Middle States Area League Coordinator, Sue Pettit, said McCree is an outstanding community member and overall tennis advocate.
“Everybody loves Marcus,” she said. “He is such a good person and a great teammate. We’re so lucky to have him in our area.”
Much of McCree’s initial experience with tennis came down to access to local tennis courts (he and his friends would ride their bikes across the highway to another neighborhood). He said he sees access to courts as an important way to grow the game with a younger generation — especially to increase diversity in the game.
On top of that, he hopes to see more young talent pulling youth into the game.
“I think we need more role models to get involved in the game,” he said. “Serena is an incredible player. Now, I’d like to see some young, black men elevate their rankings in the game and showcase their skills for a younger generation. That will get so many more youth looking to play and looking to join local programs. More role models in the game will help get those competitive juices flowing.”
“This is such a great sport. When people give it a shot, they get hooked.”
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