BELTON TENNIS
INFORMATION

SC TENNIS
HALL OF FAME

 
 

E.B. "Fluffy" Rice
Belton, SC
Inducted December 2, 1995

E.B. “FLUFFY” RICE WAS AN EXCELLENT PLAYER, BUT HE IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS LEADERSHIP AND SUPPORT OF LOCAL AND STATE TENNIS PROGRAMS AND TOURNAMENTS. A LIFE LONG RESIDNET OF BELTON, RICE ATTENDED BELTON HIGH SCHOOL WHERE HE WAS AN OUTSTANDING IN FOOTBALL AND TENNIS.

HE BEGAN PLAYING TENNIS WHEN HE WAS SIX ON THE CLAY COURT BEHIND HIS HOUSE. HE PLAYED IN THE STATE HIGH SCHOOL INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT WHEN HE WAS ONLY 12 (SEVENTH GRADE), AND WON IT HIS SENIOR YEAR. HE WAS A TOP JUNIOR PLAYER, AND WAS INVITED TO THE FIRST JUNIOR DAVIS CUP COMPETITION IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

FLUFFY ATTENDED THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA WHERE HE PLAYED NUMBER TWO SINGES AND NUMBER ONE DOUBLES FOR THE UNDEFEATED FRESHMAN TEAM. HE MADE THE VARSITY HIS SOPHOMORE YEAR AND THE TAR HEELS WERE UNDEFEATED AND MYTHICAL NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.

FOLLOWING THE WAR, HE RETURNED TO BELTON, AND SOON BECAME KNOW AS ONE OF THE TOP PLAYERS IN THE STATE. DURING HIS SPARE TIME, HE TAUGHT TENNIS TO LOCAL YOUNG PEOPLE. HE WON THE SINGLES TITLE IN THE BELTON TOURNAMENT THREE STRAIGHT YEARS (1949-1951) AND RETIRED THE CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY.

RICE AND A GROUP OF LOCAL CITIZENS CHARTERED THE BELTON TENNIS CLUB IN 1954. HE SERVED AS THE CLUB’S SECOND PRESIDENT, AND HELPED RAISE $10,000.00 TO CONVERT THE TWO “TOWN COURTS” TO RUBICO. FLUFFY PERSONALLY BUIBLT THE THRID “TOWN” COURT IN 1956. RICE HELPED ESTABLISH THE PIEDMONT CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 1955, WHICH BECAME THE PALMETTO CHAMPIONSHIPS TWO YEARS LATER. HE WAS THE FIRST CHAIRMAN OF THE PALMETTO, AND HAS WORKED WITH THE TOURNAMENT IN SOME CAPACITY EACH YEAR SINCE. BELTON WAS HONORED BY THE USLTA IN 1958 AS HAVING THE NATION’S BEST JUNIOR TENNIS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. RICE REMAINED ACTIVE IN THE BELTON TENNIS CLUB UNTIL IT WAS ABSORBED BY THE BELTON RECREATION ASSOCIATION IN 1972.

THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF HIS COMPANY, BLAIR MILLS, BELTON WAS ABLE TO HIRE A FULL TIME TENNIS PROFESSIONAL IN 1987. THE BLETON TENNIS ASSOCIATION WAS REORGANIZED, AND TENNIS CONTINUED TO BE A PRIMARTY ACTIVITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN TOWN.

WHEN THE PROGRAM OUTGREW THE 3 COURT FACILITY, RICE WAS NAMED CHAIRMAN OF THE CAMPAIGN TO RAISE MONEY TO BUILD TWO NEW COURTS AND A CLUBHOUSE. UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP, $180,000.00 WAS RAISED FROM LOCAL INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES, AND THE NEW FACILITY WAS DEDICATED IN JUNE 1992 WITH RICE RECEIVING THE FIRST SERVE ON THE NEW COURTS.

HE CONTINUES AS AN HONORARY LIFETIME MEMBER OF THE BELTON TENNIS ASSOCIATION BOARD, AND IS CONSIDERED THE MAN MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING BELTON ON THE MAP AS THE “TENNIS CAPITAL OF SOUTH CAROLINA.”

 
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