Q & A with Betsy Nagelsen-McCormack

Nov 6, 2013   //   by rhireynolds   //   Q & A with TPGF  //  Add a Comment

Meet Betsy Nagelsen-McCormack who is a former WTA professional tennis player, a mother of an active teenager and the Head Tennis Coach at the State College of Florida
Betsy was an internationally ranked player on the WTA Tour for more than 20 years, and a two-time Grand Slam tournament champion in doubles. She achieved a career high ranking of world No. 25 in singles and No. 11 in doubles, and won more than 30 career titles in singles and doubles. She won the Australian Open doubles title in 1978 and 1980, and was a finalist at the 1978 Australian Open. She was a four-time member of the U.S. Wightman Cup Team.
Before launching her pro career, Nagelsen-McCormack was the world’s top junior player in 1973 and winner of the prestigious USTA Girls’ Sportsmanship Award.
Playing in her 20th consecutive main draw at Wimbledon in 1993, Nagelsen-McCormack won the over-35 women’s doubles championship, and went on to win back-to-back titles in the US Open Senior women’s doubles in 1993 and 1994.
After her retirement in 1996, Nagelsen-McCormack became a commentator for ABC and ESPN in the United States and Australia’s Nine Network.
Her late husband, Mark H. McCormack, was founder and chairman of International Management Group (IMG) and widely recognized as the inventor of sports marketing. Following his passing in 2003, the company was sold to a longtime family friend, Ted Forstmann, founder
of Forstmann Little and the financier of recognized brands, Gulfstream and Dr. Pepper.
McCormack is active in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Women’s Hall of Fame at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center at the College of William & Mary. She also serves on the boards of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  She was honored as the recipient of the House of Hope Humanitarian Award for her service to House of Hope, an Orlando ministry for troubled teens.

Today, Nagelsen-McCormack remains active in the sport, and serves as Head Coach for the State College of Florida Women’s Tennis Team.

Question:  What a great tennis career you have had so far !  How old were you when you started playing and where did you play ?

I grew up in St. Petersburg Florida and when I was six years old my mom got invited to go watch a tennis tournament at the St. Pete Tennis center which was then called Bartlett Park. It was part of the Caribbean tour and attracted the best tennis players at that time. She took me and I got hooked then and there and begged for months for my mom to let me play tennis. A few months later she did and I’ve been playing ever since!

Question: Tell us about your Junior tennis —  you were #1 in the Country !

In 1972 I won the 16 and under national’s and that same year lost in the finals of the 18 and under nationals and was co-ranked number one in the country.

Question: You had some great Doubles Wins as a player – is there one victory in particular that you enjoyed the most?

I did have some success in doubles as my game was more suited for it. I loved to serve and volley and it was also more fun with a partner. I want 2 grand slam doubles, one with Martina Navratilova, and got to the finals of Wimbledon one year losing a close one. Wendy Turnbull from Australia and I won the richest tournament at that time with all the greats in it and we each won a car. Some of my most fun doubles memories were in mixed doubles. One year in a Wimbledon semi final Scott Davis and I played up until then the longest match ever played losing to Martina Navratilova and Emilio Sanchez in a little over four hours. One year in a US open final Paul Annacone and I had a match point against Martina and Emilio again and lost that in three close sets. Peter Fleming and I won a world mixed doubles title which was also memorable.

Question: With all the time you have been part of women’s professional tennis  tell us who are the best women’s players you ever played against?

I feel blessed to have played in the era that I did. Playing with the original nine which included Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Virginia Wade, Betty Stove, and Julie Heldman, all of whom I got to play against. Then it was Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, then Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati. Wish I could say I played against Venus and Serena too!

Question: Now that you are a college tennis coach (at State College of Florida — http://www.scfmanatees.com/sports/wten/index)  tell us about that chapter of your life?

I could write a book on my 3 1/2 years as a college tennis coach! It has been an extremely rewarding and fun experience. I have been blessed to have had some wonderful girls playing for me and it’s been a joy to watch them improve and have several of them go on to good D1 schools on scholarship! The best part is the interaction with them and hopefully having a positive impact on their lives both on and off the court.

Question: Your religion has always been a very important part of your life – how does your strong Christian faith help you in sports?

Yes, my relationship with the Lord has been the most important part of my life. I became a Christian at 16 and now many years later have found that His love for me and my wanting an ever closer relationship with Him has not only sustained me both through difficult circumstances but has helped me put things in proper order in a way that only knowing Him can do. I can not imagine any life which mine included competing seriously in a sport to dealing with the loss of a husband and being a single mom to all the other equally tough things people go through without the help from a perfect Savior.

Question: As a very successful Mom of a great daughter – how do you balance your business interests and your coaching with being a Mother of a teenager?

I am realizing that being a mom to a teenager and a single mom at that is one of the toughest jobs there is! It’s also my most important job and my most favorite job! I have a very strong willed, opinionated daughter who also has unbelievable negotiating skills. No surprise there! She makes me grow as a mom! She’s also a very good athlete and enjoys tennis which works out well since she comes to practice with us every day which of course I love. So I get to spend lots of time with my nearly 16-year-old daughter which is the best part of my life! She seems to be ok with it too!!

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