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Classics of the Dow Tennis Classic

In late January, Scott Seeburger and Ron R. Sexton became the first inductees into the Dow Tennis Classic’s new Hall of Fame.

Seeburger is a former public relations and community relations manager for Dow Corning. He was instrumental in the creation of the tournament and developed the original study for former Dow Corning President Lawrence Reed about the possibility of establishing a tournament in the Greater Midland area.

Sexton is a former treasurer for the Dow Corning Corporation. He was also the Dow Corning representative and board chair of the Greater Midland Tennis Center during the early years of the then Dow Corning Tennis Classic.

“It was exciting to be a part of the formative years of the Dow Corning Tennis Classic, and it has been even more exciting to see the tournament evolve and grow since its inception,” said Sexton.

An avid student of local history, Scott Seeburger is well known to the Lunchtime Learners crowd at Senior Services. His talks about the days of black-and-white television and about cowboy movie star (and Saginaw native) Tim McCoy were very well received. Seeburger has many memories of the tournament and the players who participated.

“In the 1990 tournament,” writes Seeburger, “a young Mary Pierce went to the finals and lost. Her father was an off-the-chart tennis father who vigorously managed Mary’s career. He was very vocal during her matches. Eventually tennis organizations had to ban him from attending. Mary Pierce went on to a great career but the emotional price had to be great, too.

“Chanda Rubin was one of the most intelligent, serious players I met and she did a fabulous job going to the schools and sharing her message of achieving personal goals. She won the Dow Corning Tennis Classic in 1995 and eventually was ranked in the top ten. After her career, she went to Harvard and got her undergraduate degree. Today she is a national
ambassador for the United States Tennis Association. Every moment I spent with her I sensed she had a higher calling in life. She is widely known for her philanthropic efforts.”

And of course Scott fondly remembers Meredith McGrath and Annie Miller, both Midland players of note. Miller became the first person to beat Serena Williams, and Meredith went to the finals of the Dow Corning Tennis Classic three times, though she was unable to pull out a finals victory. “Everyone in Midland, including me, was pulling for Meredith. I respected that both of these young athletes had a lot of pressure on them being local favorites. When we brought Meredith to schools, kids treated her like a rock star. I was tickled when the tennis
center named center court at the tournament in her name.”

What has been the impact of the tournament? “This tournament is really The Great Lakes Bay Region’s first truly successful professional sports event,” says Seeburger. “It started in 1988 and has done nothing but grow through its lifetime. Today, Midland is now home to three professional sports events adding to the quality of life in our region. The outreach to youth from this tournament, which was planned from the start, has given youth a more realistic view of professional sports and a greater appreciation of the global world that we live in.

“The Midland Tennis Center staff and their many volunteers deserve the credit for making this successful during one of the coldest and darkest times of the year. Kudos to The Dow Chemical Company for stepping in and keeping this wonderful event alive.”

Undoubtedly, the Dow Tennis Classic will continue to serve as a springboard for many up-and-coming tennis stars, and will brighten Michigan winters for years to come. Thanks to Scott
Seeburger and Ron R. Sexton for helping to bring such a wonderful program to our community!