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Indoor Tennis....A Northbrook First......
Jerry Schneider, 87, Pioneer of Indoor Tennis, Dies
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By NEW YORK TIMES REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS
Published: August 7, 2007
LONGBOAT KEY, Fla., Aug. 6 — Jerry Schneider, a developer and promoter of indoor tennis, died here July 18. He was 87.
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The cause was lung cancer, his family said.
Schneider built what is said to have been the nation’s first indoor tennis facility, in a Chicago suburb in 1961.
In 1969, Schneider became the first president of the Indoor Tennis Association. He played the game well into his 80s, when he won two national doubles titles in the Senior Olympics.
Like many tennis players, Schneider did not like forgoing the sport during the harsh Midwest winters. Armories and gymnasiums were occasionally set up for tennis, but Schneider wanted to build an indoor tennis facility with a pro shop, locker room and other amenities for dues-paying members and operate it like a health club.
“He went to banks for financial backing and then he went to his personal friends, and everybody thought he was crazy,” said his daughter, Marlon Barden of Highland Park, Ill.
He eventually persuaded his father to put up the money to start the venture. The cushioned asphalt floors and indoor lighting were designed specifically for the four indoor courts.
Before long, the North Shore Racquet Club in Northbrook, Ill., doubled the number of its courts and added a sauna and exercise room.
“He preceded the tennis boom of the ’60s and ’70s,” said his friend Asher Birnbaum, the founder and former editor of Tennis magazine, which once called Schneider “the father of modern indoor tennis.”
Schneider sold the club in 1972 and lived briefly in California before moving to Longboat Key in 1975.
Born April 26, 1920, in Chicago, Schneider was a lifelong athlete.
A track standout in high school and college, he began playing tennis after serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II.
More than 50 years later, he won national doubles titles in the Senior Olympics, in the 80-and-over men’s division in 2003 and the 85-and-over division in 2005.
While visiting Florida regularly after his parents bought a home in St. Petersburg in 1950, Schneider took up tarpon fishing and competed in tournaments well into his 80s.
In addition to his daughter, Schneider is survived by a son, Blake of Argyle, Wis.; his former wife, Joy Schneider of Evanston, Ill.; his companion, Darlene Collins of Longboat Key; and a granddaughter.
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