11/22/04 — "Mr. Tennis" honored

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"Mr. Tennis" honored

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on November 22, 2004 2:17 PM

It may take John Allen Farfour a little longer to walk out on the tennis courts these days, but his swing is still as strong as ever.

The man known as "Mr. Tennis" was honored Sunday when the refurbished tennis courts at Herman Park were named after him.

After the ceremony, more than 200 people crowded around to watch Farfour hit the first tennis ball on the newly dedicated courts.

Though the day began with gray clouds and the threat of rain, it turned bright and sunny by the time the event began.

Phil Baddour, nephew of Farfour, said he thinks the "sun shines on John Allen Farfour."

"This is a terrific tribute to a great man," Baddour said. "As long as I can remember, I have been proud of my uncle."

The quest to honor John Allen Farfour's achievements began in October 2003, when the Goldsboro Tennis Association sent a letter to the city requesting that the refurbished tennis courts at Herman Park be named after Farfour.

The City Council supported the idea, but was stopped because of a policy that prohibited naming city property after someone still living.

For some months the council tried to think of other ways to honor Farfour, but in the end the council simply changed its policy.

The city's Recreation and Parks Commission then approved an application with more than 60 names, asking that the courts be named after Farfour.

"Rules are not made to be broken but to be changed from time to time," said Mayor Al King. "We did what was right."

Tributes to Farfour, who for many years operated Music and Sports sporting goods store in downtown Goldsboro, were mixed with humor and love.

Jim Meyers, chairman of the Goldsboro Recreation and Parks Commission, said that Farfour had made Goldsboro a better place to live.

Meyers said that when Farfour reached the pearly gates, he would receive praise from St. Peter for taking his talent, developing it and sharing it.

"But then, when John Allen starts to go through the gates, St. Peter tells him to hold," Meyers said. "You're supposed to meet Jesus on court three."

Mark Helms remembered traveling to a tennis tournament with Farfour, and going to a Chinese restaurant.

"He bought me my first egg roll and told me to pile on the special mustard," Helms said. "It was the hottest egg roll I've had in my life."

Helms said that Farfour taught tennis by his actions, not just words.

"He was tough on the court," Helms said. "He won honestly and with guts."

Farfour's long-time friend, Bill Winslow, reminisced about tennis matches and praised Farfour's talent.

"The only bad thing about you, is that you're too much of a Carolina fan," Winslow said.

Johnny Walker, another tennis friend of Farfour, remembered speaking in 1979 when Farfour was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.

"And now, 25 years later, I'm speaking for him again," Walker said.

Farfour received a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony. He thanked God for letting him be at the event.

"God bless you all," Farfour said. "You are true loyal friends."

Money was raised by the community to erect a monument in Farfour's memory.

The inscription on the monument reads: "John Allen Farfour is known as Goldsboro and eastern North Carolina's "Mr. Tennis." For more than 65 years he made unparalleled contributions to North Carolina tennis as a player, leader and administrator at local, area and statewide levels. In 1979, he was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.

"He attended UNC at Chapel Hill where he lettered in varsity tennis. For 21 years he was Goldsboro City tennis champion and won numerous East Carolina Tennis Association championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

"A tireless promoter of tennis among the youth of Goldsboro, in 1947 he founded the East Carolina Junior tennis Open and ran the tournament in Goldsboro for more than 50 years.

"He was president of the East Carolina Tennis Association, the North Carolina Tennis Association and the North Carolina Tennis Foundation."