When it comes to Grand Slams, Philly-area tennis pro Mark Spann is like royalty.
A teaching pro at Upper Dublin Sports Center with more than 30 years of coaching experience, Spann watches Wimbledon a little bit differently than most.
You would too, if your mother had won a title there.
Spann’s mother, who then went by the name Anne Shilcock, earned the Women’s Doubles title at Wimbledon in 1955. Alongside her partner, Angela Mortimer, the duo won in an all-British final against Patricia Ward Hales and Shirley Brasher Broomer.
Things were a bit different back then, and prize money wasn’t quite what it is today. The competition was strictly amateur-based in those years, meaning players couldn’t accept prize money.
“For winning, I think she won something equivalent to about a $12 coupon,” Spann said with a laugh. “I think she bought a tennis outfit with it.”
When your mother wins Wimbledon, that usually means good things for your own tennis career. That was exactly the case for Spann, who grew up in a family that always loved tennis.
“I’m thankful that I’m one of those people who was nurtured into tennis, I wasn’t forced into it or pressured into playing,” he said. “Even with the family ties, tennis was presented to me in a way that I always loved it and enjoyed playing.”
Spann, who serves as Chairman of the Middle States’ Coaches Commission, went on to play professionally himself for a few years before deciding that he enjoyed the coaching aspect of the industry more than competing himself.
“I realized I was always the one organizing the practices, charting the matches and breaking things down,” he said. “I was much more interested in developing other players than working on myself.”
Today, Spann continues to do that. He said he’s most proud of the fact that more than 120 of his junior players have become student-athletes at the collegiate level.
“To me, the United States is great for tennis because of what tennis can do for a kid academically,” he said. “It becomes a tool for them. Not only does it develop a lifeskill, it shapes the way people look at things and approach things.”