Missouri Valley

Hall of Fame: Jean Larrick

November 11, 2022


Jean Larrick grew up in Decatur, Ill. and has been playing tennis for nearly 70 years. Her tennis journey started as a young girl when she was at a friend’s house and noticed what she believed to be some snowshoes on a shelf. After a few questions, she discovered they were actually tennis racquets and her beautiful tennis story took off from there. She started with some free programs and has been in love with tennis ever since.

 

She played college tennis at Missouri State University for three years. Her 1977 team at MSU won the MIAA Conference Championship and AIAW Regional Championship and competed in the AIAW Women’s Championships, finishing in the top 20.

 

Over the course of her extensive playing career, Larrick has won more than 200 titles in singles, doubles and mixed competitions. Among her career highlights are representing USTA Western on the Junior Wightman Cup team, finishing in fourth place at the USTA National 35 Women’s Doubles Clay Court Championships and winning multiple National Public Parks Tennis Championships. 

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In addition to playing, Larrick has been an International Certified Teaching Professional with Professional Tennis Registry for more than 30 years. She has also served on multiple USTA Missouri Valley and USTA National committees.

 

It is her teaching and her passion for helping others improve that sets her apart from your average tennis professional. She says this all goes back to her seventh grade teacher, Doris Sphar. She took Larrick under her wing and really got her onto the path to become an adaptive physical education teacher. This is where she developed her love for teaching and it spread into tennis. 

 

One of her true passions in tennis is working with adaptive tennis players, adults and youth beginners, alike. She finds so much joy in helping those athletes experience tennis and become the best player they can be. She demands just as much out of her adaptive athletes as she does out of all of her players. She gets the most out of each of her players because she knows how to connect with them as people as well as players.

 

When it comes to tennis fundamentals and technical skills, Larrick knows everything inside and out. You won’t find many coaches who are more knowledgeable than her. She is capable of teaching players of all ages and any level of ability. Whether a player is brand new to the game or an elite-level player, Larrick can get through to them and help them refine any skill they may need.

 

While her fundamental knowledge of the game is unmatched, she also thrives on the mental side of the game. Larrick has a unique ability to develop a player’s mental game that sets her apart from other coaches. She understands the mental toughness it takes to be successful as a player and a coach and she instills that in everybody she coaches.

 

That’s just another thing that sets her apart from other coaches. She is one of the most caring and compassionate people you’ll meet on a tennis court. She takes the time to connect with her players on a personal level and makes each person she meets feel like a close, personal friend. Her impact on her players and fellow coaches extends far beyond the tennis court. 

 

One of the greatest endorsements as a coach is having your players refer friends and family to you. Larrick has families that she’s coached up to four generations of players. That perfectly encapsulates her impact on people. Everyone wants the best for their families, and Larrick is the best. 

 

There are few coaches, or just people, more deserving of a Hall of Fame induction than her. And while she obviously doesn’t do what she does for the accolades, she couldn’t contain her excitement when she got the call to notify her of her selection.

 

“Well, it's the highest honor for me,” she said. “I was elated.”

 

To honor Jean and the rest of our 2022 award winners, please click here to register for the 2022 USTA Missouri Valley Annual Conference.

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