DelPriore, Faturos twins to enter Hall of Fame
Rachel DelPriore and twins Jim and Art Faturos will be inducted into the Buffalo Tennis Hall of Fame Oct. 15 during a dinner ceremony at Transit Valley Country Club.
Todd Miller, president and founder of the Buffalo Tennis Hall of Fame, notes that this year’s inductees are an elite group that compares favorably with the inductees of the past. A summation of their accomplishments:
At the age of 10, DelPriore began taking tennis lessons from Miller at Miller Tennis Center (then called Amherst Hills).
“Even at an early age I knew that Todd was the tennis pro who would help my tennis game the most and develop my strengths,” she said. “Some coaches are just one-dimensional. Todd lets you develop your game both physically and mentally.”
DelPriore started competing in National Clay and Hard Court tennis tournaments and was ranked in the top 15 in the East in the 14 & Under division. She rose to No. 2 in the East and top 50 nationally in the 18 & Under division.
At Williamsville East, DelPriore set a record that may never be equalled, totaling 72 singles wins from seventh grade through her senior year. After high school she was awarded a full tennis and academic scholarship to Ohio State. However, she decided to go attend the University of Virginia (ranked in the top 25 nationally) without a scholarship and made the team as a walk-on.
“I wanted to play at the highest level and Virginia was my first choice,” DelPriore said.
In her sophomore year at Virginia, DelPriore alternated between first and third singles, defeating such players as Michelle Mitchell, who was ranked No. 1 in the country in the 14 & Under division at one time (6-0, 6-0) and JJ Larson, a former top-10 player nationally in the juniors.
DelPriore developed Celiac, an autoimmune gluten allergy that caused many injuries each time she tried to play tennis. She moved back to Buffalo and started teaching at Miller Tennis Center and played very little. About three years later she got the urge to play tournaments again.
In 2003 she won the Ladies Muny Open Singles Championship. In 2007 she won the Muny & City Open Singles Championships. Both years she was ranked as the No. 1 player in WNY by The Buffalo News. For the next few years she teamed with Olga Khmylev and Joe Schafer to win many women’s and mixed doubles.
DelPriore won the 2013 Buffalo Summer Championships at Miller Tennis Center, defeating Wake Forest’s Lisa Fernandez, a top-25 college player, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Todd Miller said, “Rachel has had a phenomenal tennis career. One particular year her game was on par with any local player, male or female in the area. She continues to play and enjoy tennis in Atlanta in USTA leagues.”
Art and Jim Faturos
The twins, both outstanding baseball and basketball players, were most famous for their outstanding tennis skills. Jim said, “Art and I loved baseball and basketball. Our gym teacher was Mr. Kronman at School 21 elementary school. He was one of the greatest tennis players to have ever competed in Western New York. He was even a better person and started the Buffalo Evening News Tennis School, which was the largest of its kind in WNY history. Players from all over the county including my brother and I were involved in his tennis program. Any success that we had was due to Mr. Kronman’s teaching and expertise.”
Art said, “We were fortunate to have athletic skills that led us to do well in all sports. Even though we loved different sports we knew that we couldn’t play basketball and baseball all of our lives. Being so close as brothers and tennis partners we always had someone to play tennis with.”
Leo Kronman, who was also my tennis coach, related the following to me years ago: “In the many years of my teaching physical education and tennis I could only remember a few students who had the athletic skills that the Faturos twins possessed.”
At Bennett the twins had a legendary career. They were All High in doubles their sophomore year. Arthur and myself were All High at first doubles our junior year and Arthur was All High second singles his senior year. Jim was All High at first singles his junior and senior years. The team of 1956 was arguably the greatest public high school tennis team in the history of WNY, going 11-0 in dual matches and 55-0 total.
Jim played first singles for two years at the University of Buffalo and went 15-0 his senior year, never lost a set and was named MVP. He graduated with a degree in physical education. Arthur, who was attaining a degree in pharmacy, couldn’t play tennis in college due to his school workload.
After college the twins teamed to win five City Open doubles championships. Jim also won a title with Lloyd Tack, and Art won one with Peter Scamurra (his nephew) for a total of six each. It is feasible to think that they would have won at least another five titles if they could have played together during a 10-year stretch in which Art’s pharmacy schedule limited his availability.
What made the twins such an outstanding doubles team? They both were 6-foot-1 and had huge wing spans. Their serve-and-volley game is regarded as one of the most devastating of any teams to have ever played in WNY. Their chemistry on the court was nonpareil, and their reputation for sportsmanship and competitiveness was well known.
Some, including the late Leo Kronman, felt that the twins, with the proper training and guidance, could have been one of the top-10 doubles teams in the United States.
“Buffalo Tennis Night,” which features the Buffalo Tennis Hall of Fame Ceremony, starts at 5 p.m. Oct. 15, with dinner and awards to follow. The cost is $50 and checks should be sent to Miller Tennis Center, 5959 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville, N.Y. 14226. For further information call the club at 632-8600.