"Big" Jim Russell, ITA Hall of Famer & Legendary ITA & USTA Head Referee, Passes Away

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**Click here to read the feature story about "Big Jim" Russell on NCAA.com**

SKILLMAN, N.J. – Jim Russell, fondly known, as "Big" Jim, legendary ITA & USTA Head Referee, and 2003 inductee into the ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame, passed away on June 26, 2012.

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"With the sudden and tragic passing of Jim Russell, the ITA  has lost one of its great friends and one of the great champions of collegiate tennis, stated David Benjamin, ITA Executive Director, "Big Jim has been an iconic presence as head referee at our ITA and NCAA Championships over the past decades, and with his unique blend of rules expertise, tennis savvy, homespun humor, and sheer common sense, Jim earned a special place among the legendary "Friends at Court" such as Mike Blanchard and Jack Stahr.  He will be deeply missed by all of our coaches and players -- collegiate tennis will not seem the same without Big Jim in the referee's chair."

 

Tom Jacobs, USTA Player Development, Managing Director, AdministrationRUSSELL.GORDON SMITH.TOM JACOBS and Business Affairs, made the following remarks in tribute to his good friend:

"Big Jim was one of the finest people I have ever known and I’m proud to say that I was a friend of his.  He has been a good friend, mentor and colleague to so many of us over the years.  What he meant to college tennis is immeasurable.  He understood what college tennis was all about--the passion, the competition, the student-athlete.  He had an unbelievable talent for diffusing potentially volatile situations with his Southern charm and quick wit.  I don’t think there was a person who ever left a conversation with Big Jim without a smile on their face.  He was a very special person, a dear friend and will be missed greatly."

Lucy S. Garvin, USTA, Immediate Past President, wrote: "Jim Russell's love of tennis transcended all aspects of the game. He excelled as a volunteer at every level, and he had an extraordinary talent for officiating! Jim was without question one of the finest officials within the USTA and in particular at the collegiate level. He commanded respect, and he earned it, from the players, coaches and his fellow officials. Jim was my friend for thirty eight years, he was a mentor to me and so many others. "Big Jim", as he was affectionately called, was full of life. For those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, we would tell you, we were the fortunate ones."

Jon Vegosen, Chairman of the Board & President, United States Tennis Association, wrote a heartfelt letter about Jim. (link)


 
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