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Childs, William P.

(1935 - )

Hall of Fame Induction: 2005
Fox Meadow Tennis Club. March 5, 2005

Childs mark on paddle started when he and his brother Dave started playing seriously after Bill was eligible for the Men’s 45+. Five years later he started racking up an impressive Senior record which included five-straight 55+ titles and four consequtive 70+. Along with six Senior Mixed titles Bill amassed 23 titles over his playing career.

Childs served for five years on the APTA Board focusing on Senior activities.

In 1980, the year William Childs turned 45, he and his brother Dave started playing platform tennis in earnest. Five years later, he started racking up an impressive Senior record that included five-straight 55+ titles with his brother, and four consecutive 70+ with Rich Lombard. Along with six Senior Mixed titles, Bill amassed 23 championships over his playing career. He also served for five years on the APTA Board, focusing on Senior activities.

Bill started playing paddle on a regular basis after he moved to Vermont in 1972. Prior to that he had played sporadically, usually when he visited his older brother, David, over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. They paired up against other local teams but only for social play, rather than in tournaments. Shortly after, in 1973, Bill joined the Dorset Field Club in Vermont and started playing more frequently. He asked Dave to join him in a fall tournament in the Manchester/Dorset area, thinking that if they did well they would move on to other tournaments and perhaps even the Nationals. Dave dutifully arrived on Friday evening for the next day’s events and, since they had not seen each other for awhile, there was lots of chatting and strategizing, all accompanied with suitable quantities of wine. The next day they lost their first round match and were relegated to the Consolation round. That derailed their ambitions for competitive paddle, and it was only when Bill turned 45 and could qualify for Senior events that he and brother Dave decided to try again. That was when the wins started.

Bill and Dave won the National 50+ championships in 1986 and 1987, and were also finalists in the 45+ category in 1986. The Childs’ brothers won one more at 50+ (1990), five 55+ (five in a row from 1990-1994), two 60+ (1995-1996), and one 65+ (2001), They were also finalists in the 55+ in 1998, in the 60+ in 1998 and 1999, in the 65+ in 2002, and in the 45+ in 2007. Both brothers appeared in the “Faces In The Crowd” column of Sports Illustrated in the April 18, 1994 issue.

Bill also won four consecutive 70+ (2005-2008) with Rich Lombard and the 145+ twice—in 2004, with Jack Westerfield, and in 2008 with Rich Lombard. He was also a finalist in the 65+ and the 145+. Bill had some successes in Senior Mixed Doubles as well, winning the National 50+s with Birgit Maio in 1994, and was a finalist in 1995. With Helen Garrett, Bill won the National Mixed 50+s in 2000, and the National Mixed 60+s in 2000-2001, and 2005-2006. In 2004 and 2007, the team made it to the finalists.

Off the court, both Childs brothers have been known in their widely different geographical areas as “Mr. Paddle,” and served long terms as Directors of the APTA each, in turn, specifically as administrators of senior activities from 1990-2002—a total of 13 years. Between them they have chaired six national championship events.

Born in Berlin, Germany, where his father was in the Foreign Service, Bill spent the first 12 years of his life traveling wherever his father was stationed, which meant a variety of schools in a variety of countries. At age 13, he, in his own words, “left the nest,” attending a series of boarding schools—Eaglebrook, Westminster and Williston. After “one too glorious a year at Washington & Lee,” he enlisted in the Navy, serving from 1955-1959, before entering Yale, from which he graduated in 1963.

Bill’s first job after college was with Reader’s Digest, where he helped to crank out 13+ million copies per month. Next came a stint as Director of Development, Alumni Secretary, and tennis coach at Eaglebrook, He recently noted that, “My first year, when I inherited the job from another faculty member, we had an undefeated season which I attribute in large part to the fact that the #2 player was the reigning 18 and under national champion from Venezuela!” He left Eaglebrook to own and operate a Country Inn in Vermont for seven years. Bill and his family later moved to Baltimore, MD, where he bought an old carriage house and spent the next two years turning it into a home. His last job was with a company in Baltimore that did outplacement, executive search, and career counseling.

He retired in 2000 and moved back to Vermont. He continues to conduct informal clinics for beginners to the sport and organizes an annual, non-sanctioned tournament in Dorset, VT.

Source: Brook Kindred, Induction remarks and personal communication

Bill Childs
Bill Childs