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Drowne, Bradley C.

(1926-2018) Honor Award Induction: 1995 Hall of Fame Induction: 1996 Bradley Drowne served as the National Tournament director for the APTA for many years and pioneered the rankings system employed today. He was “Mr. Steady” as a player and won the National Men’s in 1968, the Mixed in 1969 and 1974, and his first Men’s 45+ in 1973 over Baird and Lankenau.

Drowne served with distinction as the National Tournament director for the APTA for many years during the mid and late 1970s. He was a pioneer in the initial development of a rankings system, involving points for performance and tournament weightings. All of this effort was done by hand during those years, before the routine use of computers. Whether he played in a particular event or not, Bradley was always in attendance at ranking or national events, paying close attention and tabulating tournament results. During those years of rapidly increasing popularity of the game, the complexity and the growing pains associated with this task required strong leadership and imagination, and the APTA was fortunate indeed to have had him at the tournament helm.

Aside from his diligent efforts as the Director of Tournament Activities for the APTA, he was many times a national champion. If the game had an award for “Mr. Steady,” Drowne would have been a contender. As a former partner said, “I remember playing in a tournament with him, and in the five-set final, he missed only three service returns. His steadiness and consistency were remarkable. He was the picture of patience and determination.”

Drowne won the Men’s Nationals once, in 1968 with Bill Scarlett, and they were finalists in 1969. He won the Mixed Nationals twice, in 1969 with Charlotte Lee, and in 1974 with B. J. Debree. Bradley and Lee were also finalists in 1970. Upon reaching the qualifying age for the first senior level, the Men’s Senior National 45+, he entered and won that event with Don Miller in 1973, over the formidable team of Chuck Baird and Roger Lankenau. There is no doubt that, but for the wear and tear on the body that resulted in “early retirement,” he would have continued to win in each of the subsequent five-year senior categories. From friends, partners, and opponents, he was described as conservative, mentally tough, steady, consistent, and above all, the perfect gentleman on and off the court, win or lose.

On the other hand if the game had an award for “Sartorial Elegance,” Drowne would have been the least likely recipient. Another former partner had this to say about Bradley’s style of dress: “Had there been an annual award for the least stylish player, he would have been the perennial winner, with his baggie khakis, high top basketball shoes, faded sweaters, and braces on knees, elbows, and back.”

Source: G Easterbrook Kindred – APTA Honor Award Induction comments