Kramer's Zest for Life Comes through in His Game

By Considine, Mike | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 7, 1996 | Go to article overview

Kramer's Zest for Life Comes through in His Game


Considine, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Mike Considine Daily Herald Correspondent

Jay Kramer is one of the few recognized among the nation's best in both his pastime and profession.

The Oak Brook resident and his doubles partner, Jim Schwitters, are ranked No. 2 nationally in the 55-and-over age division. Still, the Hinsdale Central coach takes more pride in being named the nation's top high school coach in 1987 and 1994.

"I really cherish those awards," said Kramer, who recently finished his 37th year at Hinsdale Central. "(In 1987), I went down to the New Orleans Superdome to receive the award. I sat there with my wife (Jackie) thinking that this was where the Bears won the Super Bowl and Keith Smart made that shot for Indiana. I felt pretty honored.

"I don't wear rings very often, but I wear that one."

The energetic 59-year-old isn't sure whether continuing to play at a high level makes him a better coach. Kramer, however, has found participating in national tournaments is its own reward.

"Being a competitor, I enjoy playing the game," Kramer said. "From the physical aspect, it helps keep me where I want to be. And playing with good players really makes it fun."

In 1974, about a year after Kramer built the Oak Brook Racquet Club in Westmont, a client asked if he could open earlier. The 5 a.m. matches against Molex Electronics president John Krehbiel grew into a doubles partnership. They began playing national 40-and-under tournaments in 1975.

"I played against friends, but never in tournaments," Kramer said. "As a pro, in the summertime, I was on the court all the time. I couldn't afford to go to tournaments and I wanted to spend time with my family."

About six years ago, Krehbiel wore out the cartilage in his knee. Now he's a competitive cyclist.

"I learned a lot of discipline from him," Kramer said.

Kramer competes more often than his current revolving partners.

Schwitters was only a passing acquaintance until the University of Hawaii tennis coach called last year. The pair placed second in the national grass courts tournament.

Kramer's birthday in October allows him to enter the national 60-and-over tournament along with the 55-and-over. Additionally, he'll play a local 55-and-over at Cantigny, the national grass courts, and the national United States Professional Tennis Association tournament.

His other partners are former University of Illinois tennis coach Dan Olson, ex-York High and Illinois player Bob Schineflug and Don Thorne, a Hinsdale dentist who played at Indiana University.

"He's very much the way he is as a coach. He gets the most out of his game," Thorne said. …

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