Confucius is credited with saying, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Greg Chambers is in full agreement with that statement. A member of the Lipscomb Athletic Hall of Fame since 2002 for his prowess on the tennis court, Chambers serves as a tennis coach for Ensworth School. He teaches private lessons and also coaches the high school tennis teams at Ensworth. He and his wife, Amanda, have a 12-year-old daughter, Anna, who attends Ensworth. He spent some time this week talking with lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played tennis from 1982 to 1986. Lynn Griffith was my coach."
Why did you decide to play tennis at Lipscomb?
"I went to Vanderbilt out of high school. I was kind of a tennis burnout. I played way too many USTA tournaments. My Dad pushed me to try to go to medical school.
"I was playing a pickup basketball game at Trevecca while I was at Vanderbilt. The Trevecca coach remembered me from my high school tennis days and my high school ranking. He asked me if I would be interested in coming to Trevecca to play tennis because they were nationally ranked.
"I went to my Dad and told him I would like to get back into tennis. At Vanderbilt I beat the No. 5 and No. 6 guys, but they didn't have any money to offer me.
"I said let's try some of the other schools so I talked to Belmont, MTSU and Lipscomb. Lipscomb has a good premed program. I hit it off pretty well with Coach Griffith. I lucked out. They gave me a good scholarship. I got to play tennis. When you are an athlete in a smaller pond you get to meet more people, you get more credit.
"Tennis was bigger back then in the United States than it is now. I played all four years at Lipscomb. I played No. 1 in singles and doubles. Looking back it was a highlight of my life.
"It was a good decision if I wanted to play tennis. It was a good decision if I wanted to go to med school. And it was a good decision financially because I got a break because I was playing tennis."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"We went to the NAIA National Tournament and finished ninth in the country. That was a big moment. We would have been in the top five I think, but half of the team got a stomach bug.
"Personally, my fondest memory was when I was playing the No. 1 seed for Trevecca who was from Sweden. He was the No. 1 player in the nation in the NAIA.
"The baseball team had finished practicing. Because I was an R.A. the baseball players came out and started cheering for me. They were borderline heckling in a nice Lipscomb way against the Trevecca guy. They got under his skin just enough that it helped me get back in the match. And I beat him. I would have probably lost that match had the other athletes not cheered me on. They kind of pulled me through that."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Coach Griffith would be the main one. I would check with him on the rankings each week. I would ask him what I could do as the No. 1 player to help motivate the guys and get them ready. I was really into it. I probably wore him down a little bit. We had a really good relationship.
"I still have had a great relationship with him and his wife, Dianne. Lynn Griffith is just a great person. He's a family guy. He wasn't all about tennis. He looked after us. Lynn made sure we were going to class. He made sure we weren't there just for ourselves, and that we supported each other. He made sure we represented the school the way they would us to represent it. He really encouraged us to make good choices."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I was a resident assistant (R.A.) on the seventh floor of High Rise which used to be where the athletes stayed. Because of that I got to know the baseball players and the basketball players. Those relations have come full circle and have helped me be where I am today.
"I had a great roommate (Jimmy Dunn). I got paid to check people in and make sure they were out of trouble. I was helping the head resident make sure there was order in the dorm. I got to know people. When I went to a sporting event I knew the guy pitching in a baseball game. I knew Ricky Bowers, who is my boss now, when he played basketball. Being an R.A. was a great opportunity for me to get to know these guys personally.
"Jimmy made the right career move. He was brilliant. He was an all-star academically at Lipscomb. He went to medical school and is an anesthesiologist in Athens, Alabama. We talk from time-to-time. He is great friend.
"I ended up not going to medical school. I went the tennis pro route.
"Another fond memory is playing quarterback in intramural football for Tau Phi. We beat Delta Nu and that was fun because they had a lot of ex-athletes and we had the preppy guys.
"I mainly pledged because one of my tennis buddies convinced me. I wanted to play intramural sports."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I tell the kids on the tennis court you need to have character. You need to live your life with integrity. You need to treat other people with respect no matter what social class they are in or what race or gender they are.
"I was brought up in the Southern Baptist Church. But Lipscomb made me feel that I wasn't any different.
"I am not going to say I have always made the right decisions. But I know when I made a bad decision. I know that most of the time when I do the right thing that Lipscomb, my parents, my coaches and my teammates have had a lot to do with me making the right decisions."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I was a biology major and a chemistry minor which I have used zero professionally.
"Ralph Samples, who was also the golf coach, taught a sociology class. I enjoyed him because he always had great stories.
"Academically, Dr. (Jim) Arnett taught animal biology. It was not exactly the most exciting class in the world, but he made me want to get a good grade. He would also ask how I was doing outside of his class. He seemed to take a personal interest in me and that was special.
"Dr. (Jim) Thomas was a dean and he had to interview me for the R.A. job.
"My grandfather died. I had a big match and I lost. I was kind of spent emotionally. I had to get in my Dad's car and drive to Little Rock, Arkansas and then go to Russellville, Arkansas where my grandfather's service was.
"When I got back someone said Dean Thomas mentioned in chapel to please remember Greg Chambers and his family in your prayers. That meant a lot.
"He also told the students that if they had not seen us play tennis that they needed to go watch us. He really complimented us and that is unusual when you are playing a minor sport. That was very important. That meant a lot."
Where do you live now?
"I live in Bellevue."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am the director of tennis at Ensworth School. It is a new position that was created just two years ago.
"I was at Westside Athletic Club for 16 years and in the insurance business for five or six years. I am very blessed to be back in tennis at Ensworth.
"I teach ladies to play tennis during the day. We have a tennis club with eight courts. I have another teaching pro with me, Matt Decker, who is probably my best friend right now.
"We teach and provide instruction. We hopefully will start doing it year round. We teach kids from the first grade through adults. It is like I am a tennis pro at a tennis and swim club but I am doing it at a school.
"The middle school has a separate coach. I coach the high school teams. We have 16 kids on the boys and girls varsity teams and about 20 on the J.V. teams and 45 on the middle school teams. We have close to 100 students on all the teams. After a year-and-half I am very pleased with the program.
Tell us about your family.
"Our daughter, Anna, is 12 and is a sixth grader at Ensworth. I am so proud of her. She runs cross country. She plays basketball. She is a tennis player. And she is a great soccer player. She plays travel soccer. She is a well-rounded kid who does well in school. Ensworth is very nurturing.
"My wife is Amanda."
My email is email@example.com.