Long road to Hall of Fame for Rolley

Jasper tennis icon inducted into Alabama Tennis Foundation HOF

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY
Posted 3/10/18

When it comes to tennis, there isn’t much Grant Rolley hasn’t done.The Musgrove Country Club tennis professional is an icon for anyone in the area who has picked up a tennis racket. Rolley has …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Long road to Hall of Fame for Rolley

Jasper tennis icon inducted into Alabama Tennis Foundation HOF

Posted

When it comes to tennis, there isn’t much Grant Rolley hasn’t done.

The Musgrove Country Club tennis professional is an icon for anyone in the area who has picked up a tennis racket. Rolley has been an outstanding player and championship coach, helping build Walker High School into a state tennis power. 

As of last month, Rolley can add a new title to his resume — Hall of Famer.

Rolley was inducted into the UTSA Alabama Tennis Foundation Hall of Fame on Feb. 17 at Vestavia Country Club as a member of the 2018 class.

“I was slightly surprised that I got elected,” Rolley said, “because I was somewhat of a temperamental player back in the day.

“I owe all the credit to the people who I have taught at Musgrove who have supported me through the years. I taught a lot of great boys, girls and adults and made a lot of good friends.”

Rolley, who grew up in Minocqua, Wisconsin, an island located in the northern part of the state, took up tennis in high school, forming a team with five of his friends. Rolley played in college and spent time playing tennis and working as a tennis professional in Florida before coming to Jasper in 1988. 

As the head coach of the Walker High School team in 1989, Rolley led the Vikings to a No. 2 finish in the state tournament. It would be the start of run that includes 11 state championship, with Rolley either directly coaching the team or working with players at Musgrove.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with Walker High School,” Rolley said. “What’s really neat is that one of the former players, Christian Matthews, is now the coach, and Oliver Wright, another former player, is helping him.”

Rolley was nominated for the Hall of Fame by his former doubles partner of 15 years, Dan Lucas.

“I found out in November. It was an emotional for me because both of my parents aren’t here. I didn’t really know my dad. He died at 37 of alcohol and drugs. My mother died of pancreatic cancer nine years ago. It would’ve been nice if they had been here,” he said.

In true Rolley fashion, a group of more than 50 friends and family took a charter bus from Jasper to see his Hall of Fame induction — and memorable speech.

“People say that I?broke rackets and argued with referees, but that my friends is fake news,” Rolley said to open his induction speech.

His speech can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzvVCCIKAlc&t=905s.

Rolley said loyalty is one of the key reasons he’s remained in Jasper for three decades.

“That has been one reason I’ve been here so long. They stick up for me and that’s pretty special,” Rolley said at his hall of fame induction speech. 

“Dr. (Jerry) Mosley said to me, ‘It doesn’t matter where you live, it’s where your friends are.’ I guess most of my friends are in Jasper. I hope I made your tennis a little better.”

———

Here is what Grant’s friends had to say about the Hall of Famer.

———

“I was a 17 year old kid who was preparing for my senior of High School when Grant Rolley first arrived in Jasper in the summer of 1988. Grant agreed to coach our team at Walker in the spring of 1989 and we went on a wild ride for the next eight months. As the captain of the team that year, I had a front row seat to watch Grant work his magic. He connected with kids in a way that I had never seen. Boys on our team that had never played with enough passion, all of a sudden were playing their hearts out and left everything on the court. And they did it because Grant believed in them and got them to believe in themselves.  We ultimately fell a heartbreaking two points short of a team title that year, as we finished second and brought home Walker’s first ever runner-up trophy. We were done, but Grant was just getting warmed up. Grant has inspired two generations of kids in Walker County and he has done it in the most unconventional ways possible. He is the real deal and he coaches the way he wants his kids to play — with every ounce of heart, desire and passion he has in his body.” 

- Shannon Johnson 

———

“Grant has been, and is, a tireless teacher of the game of tennis. He always has his own methods of instruction and inspiration which have been extremely successful. His students respect him as a coach and love him as a mentor. I, like so many others, am proud to call him my friend.”

- Gary Cowen

———

“Grant was one of the greatest tennis players and coaches I’ve ever seen in my 36 years, but he is an even greater person and friend. Grant has helped so many people and the only way I know that is because they said it, not him as he as an honorable man does not publicize his good deeds.” 

- Bob Bryan

———

“What set Grant apart from other coaches is his ability to relate to the players. He got to know his players and what made them tick. He knew how to push your buttons or when not too.  Another strength of his was his ability to get you to play to your strengths and dissect your opponents weakness. Great coach but also a lifetime friend.”

- Jason Selman 

———

“It was amazing to see the turn out for Grant’s award ceremony at Vestavia Country Club. It was a testimony to what Grant has given to Walker County over the last 30 years. Grant Rolley is a giver. (He’s)?never concerned about himself and always focused on helping someone else maximize their potential. He teaches and believes, that on and off the court, commitment and hard work wins over sheer ability ever time. Count your blessings If you are fortunate enough to call Grant Rolley your friend.”

- Chad Hill

———

“As a coach and instructor Grant has the ability to analyze the competition talent level immediately and adjust the match ups better than anyone.”

- Roger Hill

———

“It is said there is only one success and it is to be able to spend your life in your own way.  Grant is the most successful man I know.” 

- Jerry Mosley