Any successful athlete understands you’re never too young to get started in
athletics. That fact is certainly on the mark for Eddie Jacques, who began his road to
tennis success at age 2 ½ using a sawed-off racquet. He would spend hours hitting
tennis balls over the tennis net against a ball machine.
By age 5, he was starting to make his mark on the world of tennis and setting the
tone for what his future would be by winning a 10-Under club tournament. His prowess
on the tennis court enabled him to not only be a winner in his youth, but propelled him
as an adult to eventually become a successful tennis instructor and business owner.
Today, he’s the owner and tennis director at the two locations of the Athletic Club of
Alabama in Huntsville. His inspirations to be involved in the sport are far reaching and
came from several sources.
“My parents were certainly influences, and even though they divorced and lived in
different cities, each made many sacrifices to help me be successful," said Jacques,
a 1993 graduate of Huntsville High School. “Another huge influence was a fellow Hall of Fame inductee (2015), Kelly Pace
Wilson. Our practice sessions on a daily basis when we were young drove me to be a better tennis player. In college at the
University of Georgia, Coach Manuel Diaz instilled in me life lessons that have carried me throughout my life."
Jacques’ tennis talents shined like a beacon of light on a dark tennis court. By age 8, he was a No. 1 ranked player in
Alabama. His top rankings continued through his teens in every age group, and he completed his Junior Tennis competition
ranked No. 1 in the country. As a top-ranked player, he began traveling Europe with the U.S. National Team, winning tournament
after tournament. Coming out of high school, Jacques was the heavily-coveted No. 1 recruit in the country when he signed
an athletic scholarship with the Georgia Bulldogs.
While attending college at Georgia, where he earned a marketing degree and graduated in 1998, he competed in Junior
Grand Slams at the prestigious Australian, French, and U.S. Open Tournaments. In a two-year period in the 1990s he won
seven of 10 men’s open events, all while also playing in the Southeastern Conference for the Bulldogs.
Even though he played throughout his college career with a finger and elbow injury, Jacques won three consecutive SEC
singles titles and was ranked no lower than fifth nationally. In 1997, he was an NCAA All-American.
“With junior tennis you always receive individual accolades, but in college tennis it’s more of a team concept and that is
not experienced very often by most tennis players," said Jacques. “It was exciting to be a part of a team and I enjoyed that. I
wouldn’t trade my college experiences for anything. Those were some of the best memories I have in my life. The University
of Georgia has had only two head coaches in tennis and they created this massive tennis family. I feel connected and so
very lucky to be a part of that family."
The 41-year old Jacques and his wife, Robin, have two children, Edward and Houston. He is a certified member of the
U.S. Professional Tennis Association and a board member of the Alabama Tennis Association. As a local tennis complex
owner, he has around 40 employees at two locations, all of whom work as a team in assisting the business while working
to help other tennis enthusiasts enhance their enjoyment of a sport that dates back to the 12th century. Jacques took over
the tennis facility six years ago.
“What an honor to be included in the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, where only a few tennis players
are inducted," said Jacques. “I’ve received many congratulation messages and that’s when you realize how special this
honor is. I felt if I stayed in the game long enough, some special recognition would arrive. I played other sports as a youth
just for fun, but for me, it’s always been tennis."
Jacques easily gravitated to tennis since his father was director of tennis in Gadsden after his family moved to Alabama
from Cincinnati, where Jacques was born. He was around the sport at such a young age it was only natural for him to pick
up a racquet, hit a ball and enjoy it.
Among the class of 2017 of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, Jacques is a proven, perfect example
that you’re never too young to start your future.
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