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Harold Solomon inducted into the Orange Bowl Tennis Hall of Fame

Harold Solomon inducted into the Orange Bowl Tennis Hall of Fame

Legendary tennis player Harold Solomon was inducted into the Orange Bowl Tennis Hall of Fame at a ceremony last week during the Miami Open. Solomon won the Orange Bowl 18’s title in 1969 and 1970. Like so many legends of the game, it was Solomon’s success at the Orange Bowl that propelled him towards tennis greatness. “Back in those days, the Orange Bowl was considered the premiere junior tournament in the world. The Orange Bowl was the tournament that everybody wanted to win. And people were coming from all around the world. It was pretty much considered the most prestigious junior event to win in the world,” said Solomon.

Diminutive in stature but giant of heart, Solomon went on to have an incredible professional career. Nicknamed “The Human Backboard”, he was ranked in the top ten in singles from 1976-1980. In 1980 he notched a record of 64-23 and reached a career high of number five in the world. In doubles he reached the number 4 ranking primarily partnered by the incredible Eddie Dibbs. The team was affectionately know as “The Bagel Twins”. Solomon is often credited with coining the term “bagel” as a name for a 6-0 set but also gives credit to Eddie Dibbs and tennis friends for coining the term which was popularized by Hall of Fame broadcaster, Bud Collins.

Solomon is also credited with developing the “moonball”, a high arcing shot with topspin and great depth that pushed his opponents into a defensive posture. 

From left to right: Obie the Orange Bowl Mascot; Eric Poms, Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Bowl Committee; Brad Houser President and Chair of the Orange Bowl Committee; Doug Wiley, the Orange Bowl Committee Tennis Chairman; Harold Solomon, 2024 Orange Bowl Tennis Hall Of Fame Inductee; Josh Ripple, Senior Vice President of Tennis Events at IMG; James Blake, Miami Open Tournament Director and Dan Holman, USTA, Director, Competitive Parhway.

Solomon played Davis Cup in 1972-1974 and in 1978. The U.S. won the Davis Cup in two of those years, 1972 and 1978. After his successful playing career, Solomon went on to coach numerous players including Monica Seles and Mary Joe Fernandez after she turned professional. She holds the record with four consecutive Orange Bowl victories. As a junior, she was coached by Florida legend Don Petrine.

Solomon currently runs the Harold Solomon Tennis Center, now known as the Florida Tennis SBT Academy, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has numerous Hall of Fame honors including the aforementioned Orange Bowl Tennis Hall of Fame, the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

At the pre-ceremony gathering, Doug Wiley, Orange Bowl Committee Tennis Chairman, paid tribute to the late Jim Martz, the founder of Florida Tennis. Solomon recalled Martz fondly as well. “He was around all the time and I remember doing a million different articles with him. You know, such a great part of Florida tennis, from an information perspective, or keeping people abreast of what was going on and writing insightful articles and, you know, he loved the game. Obviously, we all loved him. He loved tennis, he loved the players. Players loved him. It was a mutual thing. And yeah, so you know, he'll be missed for sure. That's a resource like Bud Collins and you can't replace guys like that. They're just not replaceable”, said Solomon.


Adam Ross is a contributing writer for Florida Tennis. He is a volunteer for the USTA Florida and the Vice-President of the Tennis Collectors of America/TCA. He welcomes your questions and comments at Photos: Adam Ross / Florida Tennis. Photo courtesy of Capital One Orange Bowl.

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