Anyone who spent time in or around tennis in Southern California is aware of John Coman. A distinguished lawyer, who graduated from Fordham University magna cum laude then received his J.D. from the law school, he specialized in commercial real estate transactions. As good as he was in his professional endeavors, Coman’s involvement in tennis was even more impressive. Tennis was his passion.
He was a long-time member of the Southern California Tennis Association Board of Directors and its Executive Committee. He made an impact heading the SCTA Sportsmanship & Grievance Committee. He played a significant role in drafting the landmark lease agreement that brought the SCTA office to the UCLA campus following the 1984 Olympics.
Coman was an umpire for more than 40 years. Among his foremost recollections were officiating at Wimbledon, US Open, Davis Cup ties and his favorite tournament, The Pacific Southwest (which no longer exists). In 1968, he received the J.T. McGovern Award for contributing the most to the cause of tennis officiating the previous year. In ’68, he was also honored by the SCTA with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The United States Tennis Association made use of his administrative expertise when he served as Vice President from 1981-83. In addition, he regularly served on the USTA Umpires, and the USTA Constitution & Rules Committees.
Because of his efforts the “Experimental Alternative” became known as the “Tie-Break” and was added to USTA Tournament Regulations in 1970. Many officials believed that more credit should have been given for the years he spent developing the “Coman Tie-Break” which allows players to serve from the same side of the court they did during the set.
In 2003, Coman was feted for having attended every USTA Annual Meeting, save the four years he served in the US military, from 1935 through the year he was honored. When he passed away on December 28, 2003, at the age of 92, tennis lost a dear friend.