Columbia- After a three-year absence, Jim LaRue returned to the Show-Me State Games tennis competition this summer. A certified umpire for the United States Tennis Association, LaRue, 60, was committed to another event the past several years, but Saturday he was back for his 20th year as the event’s commissioner.
LaRue was the MU women’s tennis coach from 1988 to 1995 after establishing himself while coaching at Kirksville High School.
After leaving the Tigers’ program, he decided to stay in Columbia with his wife and two children and to remain connected to tennis through the USTA and the Show-Me State Games.
“My wife and kids are very happy being in Columbia,” LaRue said.
“I haven’t pursued any coaching jobs after the MU years.”
LaRue continues to umpire matches for the NCAA in the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences, and when he is available, gives up a couple weekends each summer to run the Show-Me State Games’ tennis matches.
“This tournament is more recreational tennis,” LaRue said.
“Bigger events don’t even offer consolations, or play for third place. At least there is a bronze medal here.”
Saturday, LaRue helped run the 12-player singles finals for the games’ junior division at the Green Tennis Center. Britni Norfolk beat Katelyn Sterchi 6-1, 6-2, to earn the gold medal. Elizabeth Hubbs won the third-place match 6-0, 6-0.
After the matches, LaRue admitted that a larger USTA event in Springfield, Mo., prevented many players from competing in Columbia this weekend.
LaRue also helped run the junior and adult division doubles matches Saturday at Cosmo-Bethel Park. Because of the hot and humid conditions, his duties included limiting competitors to two matches in one day.