Travis Smith Sr.
Induction Year: 1993
Travis Smith (1895-1983) was born in Waco on October 7, 1895, the son of James Green and Martinette Campbell Smith. He attended the Waco Public Schools and worked in his father’s grain business until the outbreak of World War I. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and participated in the invasions of France.
After the war, Travis operated an ice cream business in Dallas. He married the former Ella Bess Holstead in Waco on February 14, 1922. In 1927, Travis left the ice cream business and moved to Yoakum where he operated a tire business. In 1928 when the railroads ceased operating in Yoakum, Travis closed the store and moved to Wharton where he founded the Travis Smith Company, merchandisers of tires, appliances and tennis equipment.
“Trav” retired in 1960 to devote his full time to his love of tennis. He began playing tennis at the age of ten on a backyard dirt court with sheets draped over a clothesline for a net and brooms for rackets. He later played for Waco High School and represented the school at the state high school tennis tournament. He won many titles including the Central Texas Cup in 1919 and 1920, the Dallas Open Tournament in 1923, the 1965 San Luis Potosi (age 55 division) and the Beaumont Invitational Senior Singles of 1963. From 1955 to the early 1980s, Trav consistently ranked in the top ten in the senior divisions at the state and national levels. He was a member of the U.S.L.T.A. Umpires Association and worked the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in 1968 and 1969. He was the originator of the Texas Tennis Association Top Ten Patch Award, an award given to Texas players the first time they are ranked in the top ten in national singles. In 1977, he played in the Wimbledon regular tournament and later played in the Super-Senior divisions.
Awards presented to Travis include the prestigious 1966 Caswell Award – an award given to the person who has made the most valuable contribution to the growth and development of tennis in Texas. He also received the 1970 Texas Top Ten Patch Award and the 1980 Presidential Sports Award. In 1979, he received the Presidential Sports Award from Jimmy Carter. For 55 years Travis Smith was “Mr. Tennis” in Wharton County, teaching for free anyone who wanted to learn to play tennis. He provided countless rackets, balls, nets, shoes and clothes to anyone needing them. He was the founder of the Wharton County Tennis Association.