Carl Leedy was born in Ashland, Ohio to Howard and Betty Leedy on May 30, 1939. He is a 1957 graduate of Ashland High School, a 1961 graduate of Ashland College and a 1966 Masters Degree graduate from Wayne State University in Speech/Language Pathology. At a young age Carl, with help and encouragement from his father, was into the neighborhood sports football, basketball and baseball. His interest in tennis began at Ashland College’s clay courts close to his home. He soon was playing at Brookside’s clay courts and occasionally at the YMCA courts. In high school he and friends began reading about tennis and learning the most efficient stroke production of the 50’s era. They wanted to play on a high school team so they petitioned George Valentine, the Athletic Director, who got it approved and the first post war team was born in spring of 1957, Carl’s senior year. Leedy’s love of tennis took an even further leap as he continued to play at Ashland College. Even in college Carl began to sense the desire to coach tennis and help others experience the joys of playing and competing that he was feeling.
Following graduation and marriage to Sandra Kohler of Rittman, he taught for 5 years in the Pontiac, Michigan area where he started an intramural team at Waterford Kettering High School which then developed into a varsity squad. It was the new school’s first tennis team and Leedy’s too. Carl returned to Ashland to work as an SLP in the schools and became assistant boy’s tennis coach under Don Malone. Malone’s son Tom and Chuck LaBar in 1970 were the first and only players to advance to state in modern history until Justin Crooks and Adam Slabodnick did it 30 years later in 2000, Carl’s last season of high school coaching.
In 1970 Leedy saw the need to help children and adults get tennis instruction and develop their abilities in tennis. So a summer program was initiated through the Ashland Parks and Recreation Dept. Carl has been directing the program now for the last 46 years. A few years ago a boy who had been told Carl started the program 40 years ago proclaimed that summer for all on the courts to hear, “Hey, he’s the guy who invented tennis.” One of Carl’s many fond memories of summer tennis.
By fall of 1974 with girls sports gaining popularity he became the first Ashland High School girls tennis coach. Leedy coached girls teams had the schools best record at that time of 17 and 2 in 1976, 77 and 85 and saw Tammy Eisel win a record 36 matches in one season and 97 in her career. Carl’s girls teams won 13 conference titles, 8 consecutively. Six girls, Tammy Eisel, Amy Schmitz, Susan Culler, Kim Simmons, Andrea Kang and Jenny Slabody, qualified for state. Amy and Tammy won the state tournament in 1977 and no one male or female has matched that fete at AHS before or since. To say this was a highlight of a long career would be an understatement.
In 1971 Carl was named head boys tennis coach at AHS. In 29 years the boys teams saw Tom Jackson win a record 29 matches in one year and 69 in his 3 year high school career. After Ashland became a 4 year high school,Justin Crooks won 79 in his career. Boy’s teams won conference titles 6 years and finished second numerous times. In 1981, 82, 83 both boys and girls teams won conference titles 3 years running. Carl was Coach of the Year several times in both boys and girls seasons.
Leedy’s college coaching career began with the Ashland University Women’s Tennis Team in 2001. They qualified for the GLIAC Tournament 7 years and finished third or fourth, six years in a row. Teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament 3 times and 2 of his best players, Torrie Goudy and Paige Cooper were consistently ranked in the regional top ten doubles. Paige had 159 career wins, most of anyone in AU history. One of Carl’s highlights was in 2007-08 when his team had a record 21 wins and vaulted to third in the league from sixth the year before resulting in an NCAA bid. In 2016 Carl retired from coaching at Ashland University ending a 50 year long labor of love. Leedy continues directing his “baby” the Ashland Recreation Department Summer Tennis program.
Carl’s 50 year career saw his high school teams win 655 victories, sixth in Ohio in 2000 and his university teams win 176 over his 15 years for a total of 831 career wins out of 1257 matches.
Carl credits and thanks God for guidance, opportunities and blessings given throughout is life. He appreciates and wishes to thank assistant coaches, athletic directors, summer instructors and others who have contributed to the success of tennis in Ashland. Carl especially wishes to thank his wife Sandy and family who were so supportive through those years of work and time away from home. Their son Mark lives in Ashland and daughter Lynn (Andrew) Talbot in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Carl and Sandy have 4 grandchildren, Morgan, Ella, Asher and Meilin Talbot.
Nominated by Paul Dienstberger