Joe Davis: Former Tennis Great
April 18, 2007
Joe Davis is arguably the greatest tennis player that has ever played on Vanderbilt's campus. Davis' three successive SEC tennis titles (1939-41) at the No. 1 position are unmatched in Commodore history.
Born in Cincinnati, Davis moved to Nashville with his family at an early age. MBA was where he prepped while becoming the Nashville city champion for three straight years (1935-37). While deciding on his collegiate choice, Tulane was very much an option after they had offered him a full scholarship. At the time, Tulane was a national tennis power and a member of the SEC.
The writer was making a comparison to Gallihadion the 1940 Kentucky Derby winner over favored Bimelech. Bimelech took the lead in that race, but was overtaken by Gallihadion. Competing in his third race in eight days slowed Bimelech.
"I decided I wanted to go into business and a man named Justin Potter offered me a job in the coal business right before the out break of the war. I started working January 1, 1945. I worked for Mr. Potter for about 10 years before I started into the business myself.
Davis started his own company--Davis Coals, Inc in 1955. He turned the company into a successful coal mining operation in Kentucky. Davis was a member of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, Montgomery Bell Academy Board if Trust and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Davis became a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1976 and died in 1989 of Hodgkin's disease.
Davis said about Vanderbilt from his Go Gold interview:
"It's a great school, with great people there, really first class people. So many have made great contribution to society. I think they have the right balance in sorts and schoolwork. That's one thing that all student-athletes who come to Vanderbilt can be thankful for."
Traughber's Tidbit: Congratulations to Coach John Williamson and the Vanderbilt women's bowling team by winning the NCAA National Championship last Saturday. By defeating Maryland Eastern-Shore, 4-3, the Commodores won the only team national championship in any sport in Vanderbilt's athletics history. The 2001 women's tennis team almost became the university's first national champion, but lost in the finals. Vanderbilt becomes only the fourth bowling NCAA National Champion following Nebraska (2004), Nebraska (2005) and Fairleigh Dickinson (2006).
Next week read about former Vanderbilt baseball coach and Nashville Sounds first baseman George Weicker.
If you have any comments or suggestions, you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail at WLTraughber@aol.com.
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