Farrow honored with hall enshrinement

Visitors to the John Drew Smith Tennis Center during the past 20 years likely have seen or heard local tennis pro Juan Farrow conducting his drills or sessions. His booming voice, telling players to “step into that ball” or giving other tidbits of instruction while they run around the court trying to hit tennis balls, is legendary.

Farrow has been teaching tennis to both adults and juniors there for more than two decades. Wednesday evening in Athens, Farrow was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Hall of Fame.

“It means the world to me,” Farrow said.

Wearing his green jacket and carrying a soft smile, Farrow said he hadn’t been to Athens since the last time he competed.

“It brings back memories,” Farrow said.

Through the years, Farrow has given tens of thousands of lessons and developed a large core group of followers, some of whom traveled to Athens to be there during his induction.

Debra Johnson, one of Farrow’s “regulars,” credits Farrow’s instruction for her love of the game.

“Juan is the epitome of tennis for me,” Johnson said. “It was through his patience, finesse, expertise and booming words of on-court encouragement that kept me going. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

Dick Creswell, another “Juan regular,” said he felt honored to be a part of the ceremony.

“(Farrow) is an outstanding athlete and teacher of tennis,” Creswell said. “As a resident of Macon, I feel lucky to have him in our city and lucky that I am one of the folks who tries to keep up with his drills.”

Keeping up with Farrow’s drills isn’t easy to do. Darrell McDowell, a former JDS employee, said, “I left my lungs on the court. Juan would joke about giving me free lessons to see me do that again.”

Morris Reese, an advocate of Farrow, also said he was deeply honored to attend the ceremony.

“We all stand on Juan’s shoulders,” Reese said.

Farrow’s former coach, Kent DeMars, appreciated what he did for the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville tennis program.

“Juan’s (presence) is what put our name on the map,” DeMars said. “We had an upstart program in Southern Illinois, and because we now had a feature player like Juan, I was able to go out and get similar type players.

“Personally, I know what tennis means to Juan. It such a huge part of his life to be inducted in the Hall among your peers. It’s a very deserving honor.”

Richard Elliott, who takes private lessons from Farrow, said, “Juan has honored us for many years with all of his hard work and countless hours he spends encouraging us -- and sometimes disciplining us. It’s nice to honor him. I’m here to celebrate with him something that is long overdue. And well deserved.”

Even though players take tennis lessons from Farrow, they’ve learned much more. Joanna Jones has been taking Farrow’s classes for 15 years. Frequently, Jones asks him how his holiday or weekend was, to which he’d reply, “Joanna, every day is a good day.”

“Even though I thought other days meant more than others,” Jones said, “Over the years, I’ve learned what he meant. Every day is a good day. I can’t thank him enough for helping me to see that.”

Said McDowell, “He isn’t just a guy who taught tennis. He isn’t just a guy whose racquets I strung, He’s a great friend.”

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