Photo by Bill Roseberry
(From left) Lewis and Clark Community College men’s tennis coach Chris Logan, his brother and head Alton girls’ tennis coach and assistant boys’ coach Robert Logan and his uncle Mike Walters, head boys’ tennis coach at Marquette Catholic. Tennis is definitely a love affair within their family.
Bob and Jeanne Walters started a family trend long ago and it’s stuck — a love affair with tennis.
Bob and Jeanne coached at Marquette Catholic High School in the 1980s and early ’90s. Bob was the boys’ coach and Jeanne was the girls’ coach, leading them to two sectional titles in her stint.
Bob can still be found patrolling the stands at local tennis matches, wearing his trusty orange cap, but what started with his family has trickled through the Greater Alton area as more than just fandom.
His son Mike Walters is the new boys’ tennis coach at Marquette this season, joining his two nephews, Chris Logan and Robert Logan, beginning a coaching trifecta in Alton and Godfrey. Chris is in his first year as the head men’s tennis coach at Lewis and Clark Community College, while Robert has been Jesse Macias’ assistant for the Alton boys’ since 2007 and the girls’ head coach since 2009.
Mike, a 1983 graduate of Marquette, said tennis has just been a way of life for his family.
“That was back when Rock Spring was really the only place to play and when you’ve got nine kids you’ve got to find some sports that don’t cost a whole lot of money,” Mike said of his childhood. “Tennis racquets weren’t that expensive and everybody had tennis balls, so my mom and dad would take us down to Rock Spring — or Summers-Port — and hit with us. We all played and it was a lot of fun.”
By the time Robert and Chris came along, they cut their teeth on the sport at Summers-Port.
“We grew up at Summers-Port,” Robert said. “Our parents dropped us off there every day at 11 a.m. and the tennis courts were there and we’d play baseball, swim and it was just a great time out there.”
He added, “We could always go hit with our aunts and uncles because everybody knew how to play. It was just a fun time.”
Robert graduated from Marquette in ‘05 and Chris graduated from there in ‘07. Robert advanced to state as a junior and senior in singles. Chris went to state in doubles as a senior.
Both went on to play at Lewis and Clark, where Robert went to nationals in ‘06 and ‘07.
Their younger brother Patrick, a 2011 grad from Alton, qualified for state four times, in singles as a freshman and doubles the other three seasons. He went to nationals in 2012 at LCCC.
There are a slew of other family members with tennis accolades, too. Mom Theresa played at LCCC, as did uncle David Walters, while Mike and Tommy Walters played at Rockford College.
Robert and Chris’ aunt Mary Armstrong was a four-time state doubles qualifier at Marquette and aunt Carolin McCluskey went to state in doubles at Marquette.
Cousin Jackson Scheiter is a senior at Alton who qualified for state in doubles as a sophomore and junior.
Even Robert’s wife, Kayla Logan (Arbuthnot), played at Roxana and LCCC, where she went to nationals in ‘07 and ‘08. Tennis was the connection for them.
“I was at Marquette and she was there and my buddy was like, ‘I know this girl,’” Robert said. “He went up to her and said, ‘He plays tennis.’ I said, ‘Don’t tell her that. She’s not going to like that; she wants a baseball player.’ And she said, ‘No, I play tennis.’ And I was like, ‘Oh.’ So tennis had something to do with it. It definitely wasn’t the looks.”
As playing parlayed into coaching, they continued to lean on each other. Mike even gets advice from his nephews now.
“Robert has helped me out quite a bit and I’ve even bugged Chris a few times and asked him a few things,” Mike said. “I haven’t really played competitively since 1988 and I know the game has changed. As a matter of fact, Robert had to reteach me my forehand.”
Chris quipped, “(Mike’s) questioned me in some form my entire life, but actual constructive questions, it was a breath of fresh air. I was waiting for a punchline.”
Robert is the only one that does the education thing full time, working in the Alton School District. Chris was named the parks and recreation director for the village of East Alton in October, while Mike dabbles in politics as a lobbyist; both have to finagle schedules to coach.
“As long as I enjoy it and it’s not affecting the rest of my life, I’ll do it as long as I can,” Chris said. “I have liked it so far and I think I’ll like it more as I go along.”
Mike said family ties will keep him bonded to the Explorers for now.
“My son is a freshman and my daughter is in eighth grade now and she’s hinted at playing, so if coach (Jim) Claywell resigns before she graduates I’ll probably do both,” he said. “I have a nephew in eighth grade that’s going to go to Marquette and I’d like to at least see him through.”
Robert, who as a Marquette alum never thought he’d be a Redbird, said he owes Macias everything after starting as a volunteer assistant for him.
“As for Alton, I’d be honored to coach there as long as they want me,” Robert said. “I don’t see myself leaving any time soon.”
Whatever they do, tennis won’t quit being a part of their lives any time soon, either.
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