Eddie Shapard worked thousands of hours to make the Oklahoma high school state tennis tournaments more memorable for its participants.
At next weekend's boys' meet, he'll get to enjoy it all one last time. Shapard, who turns 72 next month, has cancer and has been given 60-90 days to live.
He terminated chemotherapy because, he said, “I opted for quality of life rather than length of life.”
Shapard was recently given a lifetime achievement award by the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame. A plaque honoring his contributions to high school tennis was unveiled Friday during the girls' state tournament at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.
Shapard's “labor of love,” he called it, began simply because he was a dad surprised by the lack of fanfare surrounding his daughter's No. 2 singles state championship in 1985.
“There was just no celebration, no history, no nothing that celebrated the accomplishment,” Shapard said.
More specifically, there was no program. So, with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association's blessing, he began compiling all the past tennis results and champions and, in 1986, produced the first state tennis tournament program.
“At first, I had to go back and accumulate all the players back to the first sanctioned tournament in 1958,” Shapard said. “I went out to the OSSAA and got their records, but all they had for the doubles players were the last names. I had to track down 30 years of names.”
Shapard, an attorney and local business owner, enlisted the help of Oklahoma high school sports historian and former Oklahoman reporter Ray Soldan. He found misspellings in the OSSAA's records and worked diligently to make his program as accurate as possible.
“Through the years, people would call and say, ‘I played in 1961 and you've got my name misspelled,'” he remembered. “I never realized how many ways you can spell John ... but I think it's very accurate now.”
About four years after he started producing the programs, he was still charging a small fee for them. But one year, a No. 2 doubles girls player, who he remembers wasn't highly seeded, came to look at the program with her mom.