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After 15 years of coaching both boys and girls tennis at Lincoln Park, Roger Gillard decided to retire after the 2014 spring season. Photo by Frank Wladyslawski

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Gillard retiring from the court after 15 years at LP PHOTO

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For more than 40 years, tennis has been a huge part of Roger Gillard’s life.

However, after coaching the Lincoln Park High School’s varsity boys and girls tennis teams for the past 15 years, he has decided to retire.

Beginning with his own tennis career at Midland High School, Gillard was able to win a state title with the Chemics in 1971, before graduating in 1972.

He continued his schooling at Central Michigan University and later went on to get hired as a chemist for Wayne County, a position he just retired from in January.

While Gillard’s been an active tennis player most of his life, he’s only coached the sport for the last 15 years, all of which was at Lincoln Park.

During his time with the Railspitters, he said he never missed a practice.

“I’ve got a better batting average than Ernie Harwell,” Gillard joked.

As a coach, he not only set out to help guide the teens in both the physical and mental aspects of the game, but also stressed character development as part of his program.

During his tenure with the Rails, Gillard was able to win two MEGA Conference titles, both of which came on the boys’ side.

The first championship was earned in 1999 and the in 2006.

Looking back now, those two seasons were his favorite, as in both years he had a son on the squad; Alan in 1999 and Ernie in 2006.

Both of Gillard’s sons went on to graduate from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but neither played tennis in college.

One challenge that Gillard faced as Lincoln Park tennis coach had been low turnouts for the sport, which has kept the program from being able to put together junior varsity squads.

“Not having a JV team made things hard to compete,” Gillard said. “But we were able to challenge some teams and by the end of the season come out with some victories.”

Now heading into retirement, the one thing that Gillard said he will miss the most is the sarcasm that comes from some of his players.

“Being around kids is fun. I love their quick wittedness,” he said “They asked me if I was in the War of 1812. I’m only sixty years old.”

Gillard said that he will take his retirement easy for now. His plans?

“I want to grow a garden and catch some fish.”

Last Updated: 7/22/2014 11:11:05 AM EST