Abbey was tennis pro dean in beach cities
Abbey was tennis pro
dean in beach cities
by Mary Ann Keating
H.J. “Jeff” Abbey, whose name has been intertwined with tennis in the beach cities for more than six decades, recently died, at age 90, in Oklahoma where he had lived for the past two years. Abbey played, taught and founded tennis clubs locally, and had the distinction of being the 10th member to be accepted into the United States Professional Tennis Assn.
Abbey was born April 16, 1926 in Oswego, Kansas and often said he began the sport at age three when his father made him a little racket. “He’d hit the balls to me and I’d hit ‘em back.”
He earned high school letters in football, basketball, golf, track and tennis. While studying history at the University of Kansas, World War II broke out. Abbey immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where his assignment was to help build tennis courts for the officers and their families. He also performed with the U.S Navy Band.
After the war, Abbey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and his master’s in public administration from the University of Tulsa, where he taught for two years as the youngest college tennis coach in the country.
Abbey moved to Southern California in 1954 and worked with the Redondo Beach Parks and Rec Department for the next ten years. He subsequently was a tennis pro for the City of Manhattan Beach from 1963 to 1980 and was tennis pro for Hermosa Beach from 1980 until his retirement four years ago. Court Number Five in Hermosa Beach is dedicated to Abbey.
His thousands of students during his 73 years of teaching included everyone from politicians to educators, their children and grandchildren, along with friends and neighbors who welcomed the opportunity to learn from his unique teaching style, his wisdom and wit.
Abbey is survived by his son Kevin of Claremore, Okla., and six grandchildren. A daughter Kim is deceased. His longtime friend and former Redondo Community Services Director Patricia Dreizler plans to host a memorial and to establish a scholarship in Abbey’s memory. For more information call (310) 540-8585. ER