» About Us

Annual Memorial Awards

Greg_Woodruff2Greg Woodruff Memorial Award 

(Adult Sportsmanship)

 When you gave Greg “Woody” Woodruff a ball—any kind of ball—good things would happen. As a young teen, he stood out as a Babe Ruth League baseball player. At Eldorado High School he suited up with the basketball team and made All-State. He could crush a golf ball and at 14 shot a 72 to win a high school tournament. He led basketball teams in scoring and rebounding at both Trinidad (Colo.) Junior College and at Adams State College, in Alamosa, Colorado. During his college years, Woodruff gave up golf and started playing tennis in earnest. A gentle, good-natured 6-4, he built his game around a nasty, left-handed spin serve and found a spot on the Adams State squad. Upon graduation he taught special education and coached boys’ tennis at Valley High School, where he whipped up on most of his young charges. In his free time during those pre-NTRP days, he became one of the best “A” players at the Lobo Tennis Club. At 25, Woodruff met his toughest opponent: acute lymphocytic leukemia. In spite of that diagnosis and subsequent chemo treatments, he continued to play tennis. The disease went into remission for almost five years, only to return with a vengeance. An attempt at a bone marrow transplant in Seattle failed and Woodruff died there on Sept. 7, 1987. He was 30. 

Ralph Thompson Memorial Award   (Friend of Court)

Ralph Thompson did not miss many Albuquerque tennis events, large or small. Thompson was as likely to show up at the Coleman Vision Tennis Championships, a USTA Pro Circuit tournament, as he was to take in a dual match between Cleveland and Jefferson middle schools. Thompson played tennis regularly, mostly at Highpoint Sports & Wellness. Just as important to him was his support of the game as a spectator and patron. Thompson and his wife Rosemary, a champion golfer, ran their own business in Albuquerque before retiring in 1983.  That gave Ralph more time to meet up with friends at Highpoint or to drop by a UNM women’s match at the Lobo Tennis Club. Both of those venues feature markers that give testament to Thompson’s love for the sport and his devotion to it as a fan. Ralph E. Thompson died of complications from pulmonary fibrosis on Aug. 7, 2009. He was 80.


Mark_Hamman_with_ball_(2)Mark Hamman Memorial Award 

(Wheelchair Tennis)

Spinal cancer at age 9 left Mark Hamman a paraplegic. Undeterred, he took up wheelchair tennis, won numerous events in the sport, and was named to the U.S. national team. He hunted deer in a wheelchair and played on a wheelchair basketball squad. After college at the University of Texas-Arlington, Hamman went to work for Apria Health Care. That job eventually took him to Albuquerque where he lived and worked, beginning in 2000.  An Albuquerque wheelchair tennis program had existed in the 1980s, but it had been dormant for some time when Hamman arrived. Assisted by D’Wayne Begay, Hamman resurrected wheelchair tennis in the city, and helped to find it a home at Four Hills Country Club. Through the years, the Albuquerque program produced numerous competitive players. When Hamman returned to Texas in 2005, Begay continued to bring attention to what Hamman had begun. Despondent over a shoulder injury, Mark L. Hamman took his own life on March 31, 2008. He was 43.


Bill_TalbertBill Talbert Memorial Award

(Junior Sportsmanship)

William F. “Bill” Talbert was a nationally prominent player and administrator. Talbert was ranked in the top 10 among American singles players 13 times, between 1941 and 1954. He reached the men’s final of the national doubles nine times, captained the U.S. Davis Cup squad from 1953-1955, beating Australia to win the Cup in 1954. Known as “Mr. Tennis,” he served as tournament director of the U.S. Open for 15 years and wrote best-selling how-to-play tennis  books. Talbert was an excellent role model—on and off the court.  He demonstrated that young people could pursue their dreams while successfully managing Type 1 diabetes, which he had done since the age of 10.  In 1967, Talbert was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The victim of a brutal mugging in 1992, Bill Talbert’s health declined and he died Feb. 28, 1999 in New York. He was 80.


Mary_Margaret_Torres2Mary Margaret Torres Memorial Award

(Junior Female Player of the Year)

Promising young tennis players don’t typically come from Socorro, New Mexico. Mary Margaret Torres was an exception. Taught initially by her father, she learned the game at age 6 on New Mexico Tech’s concrete courts. From the beginning, Torres showed natural talent and fierce determination. Realizing their daughter needed to live in a bigger city to improve, her parents helped her move in with a family in Albuquerque, where she attended Eisenhower Middle School, Sandia Prep and Eldorado High School. Training with top young players and coaches, by 15 Torres was the girls high school singles champion for Eldorado. At 16 she won the Southwest women’s singles. Two years later she was named New Mexico Athlete of the Year. She earned an athletic scholarship to the University of California Berkeley, where she played on the women’s team and as a senior achieved a 25-11 record in singles. That same year, she qualified for the NCAA Division I doubles championships. She received a bachelor’s degree in finance from UC Berkeley and returned to New Mexico to consider her career options. Mary Margaret Torres died in Albuquerque on Jan. 21, 1989 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident. She was 23. 


Ted_Russell3Ted Russell Memorial Award 

(Junior Male Player of the Year)

Tall and physically gifted, Teddy Russell possessed a blazing, well-placed serve. In the days of wood rackets, Russell’s cannonball was estimated to be 120 mph. Russell learned tennis from his father Gene, a national-caliber player in the 1940s.  Ted Russell honed his big serve and pinpoint volleys at the Tennis Club of Albuquerque, which his father helped to found, in 1956. At Highland High School, Russell rarely lost a set. He won the boys’ state singles three times, from 1962-64. At the University of New Mexico, he led the Lobos to their first Western Athletic Conference championship, in 1968. During the summer, Russell went east to play the grass-court circuit and scored some impressive wins over ranked players. Russell, however, was a reluctant talent. A model sportsman, laconic in manner, Russell, if he felt like winning, almost always did. At other times he seemed less interested. After college, instead of expanding his tennis opportunities, Russell stayed in Albuquerque, restored automobiles and studied art and finance. The Lobo Tennis Club stadium bears his name and many call him the best New Mexico player of his generation. Russell died in an automobile accident near Phoenix, where he had settled and worked as a stockbroker, on Dec. 19, 1976. He was 30.