Terry Rhodes credits much of his success in life to tennis. No, he’s not a professional tennis player, but he clearly recognizes that the sport helped open doors that allowed him to be successful in his chosen profession, a real estate transactional lawyer, for 33 years.
Because of his lifelong love of tennis and connection to CSULB as a student, graduate and tennis player in 1962, Rhodes has pledged a $1.25 million gift for the construction of a new campus tennis facility and the establishment of an endowed scholarship fund for tennis players. Of the gift, $250,000 will go toward the facility and $1 million for the endowment.
“We are certainly very grateful to Terry Rhodes for this generous gift in support of our tennis program and our students,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “Our tennis facilities are outdated and in need of substantial renovation which will begin this spring thanks to Terry’s wonderful generosity. This gift will not only benefit our very high-achieving student athletes, but thousands of other students, faculty, staff and alumni.”
Alexander further stated that “this is an example of how our university has made an impact on a single individual and how he is unselfishly giving back not just because of his love of tennis but because of his appreciation to California and Cal State Long Beach for making available a high-quality university education at a critical time in his life.”
“Tennis has been very good to me and gave me opportunities for employment,” said Rhodes, who began his collegiate studies at UCLA but finished by earning a business degree from CSULB in 1962. “I ran a tennis program for the City of Santa Ana recreation department while in high school, and in college, I taught tennis lessons and ran the tennis program for the City of Long Beach recreation department, followed by teaching tennis lessons while in law school.”
An insightful person, Rhodes determined that the State of California had been very generous to him, providing his pre-collegiate and collegiate education, along with the opportunity to continue on for his law degree, which he received from UCLA in 1968. As a successful lawyer, after eight years in the field he began his own firm ― Rhodes, Kendall and Harrington in Newport Beach ― remaining there until 1986. He then left the firm to become a sole practitioner until retiring in 2001.
“The recreational and social contacts I made through tennis benefited me my entire life,” said Rhodes. “I hold a major appreciation for what the State of California has given me and this is one way to give something back. I told my children I was going to do something for education, but I didn’t know when or how. Then, I received one of those proverbial letters and I responded. Susan Knopick (CSULB director of estate and planned giving) contacted me and there was the opportunity to match my desire to support public education and link it to my passion for tennis. It was just one of those synchronistic events.”
“Vic Cegles, director of athletics, had the opportunity to share the vision for the tennis facility and our athletics program. What we found out was that it aligned with Mr. Rhodes’ core values and desire to support future student-athletes that share a similar passion for tennis and education,” said David Benedict, senior associate athletics director for external relations at CSULB. “Mr. Rhodes has set a wonderful example for all 49er sports fans and CSULB donors. He understood that competitive athletics play an important role in the life of the university and appreciates the balance between academics and athletics. His generosity will help ensure that we can continue to provide the support our student-athletes need.”
Oddly, Rhodes, 67, quit playing tennis altogether eight years ago after competing in the Australian Tennis Veterans Championships. It wasn’t that he didn’t love the sport anymore, but rather he looked to shift his focus to another passion ― marathon running, which he took up in 1995. He simply didn’t feel he could do both sports at the level to which he was accustomed. So, at the age of 55, he ran his first marathon in Los Angeles and has since run 25 others, including those in Long Beach, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C. and Boston. He says one of his proudest moments came when he, his daughter Shannon and son Greg, along with other members of his family, completed the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota and finished together.
“When I received my business degree with a specialty in accounting and was accepted to UCLA Law School,” said Rhodes,“I remember looking at the portfolio of entering students and seeing all of these students from the likes of Michigan, Purdue, UC Berkeley and UCLA, with all of these accolades and I said ‘what in the world is an accounting major from Long Beach State doing here?’ I felt I was underprepared, but I performed well and when I look back I realize Long Beach State gave me the solid education I could then apply through law school and beyond. Not only was I given the opportunity to get a good education, but the business department provided me with real fundamentals I could use.”
Rhodes admits that aside from attending 49er basketball games in the early 1970s, he hadn’t been at the university since he graduated but, upon his recent return, was impressed with how beautiful the campus is and how it has changed.
“I guess I have a reason to come back more often now,” he kidded.