South Jersey is home to many things: Miss America, blueberry farms, sparkling beaches. Some of it’s beautiful, some of it’s downright odd. Most towns boast something special in their rich histories, but what you might not know is that Millville sprouted many great tennis players.
Remy Aronoff was one of them.
He and his brothers, Jake and Ethan, often reminisced about his tennis career, and the fact that many tennis players from the town excelled in the sport from a young age despite not having a background in it. Some of these players went on to play on Ivy League teams, such as Hank Peele, who would letter in the sport at the University of Pennsylvania.
The family got to thinking: How is it that so many great players came out of Millville?
That was the seed.
“We thought, let’s look at that a little more closely,” Jake Aronoff said. Aronoff himself played tennis for three years in high school.
In October 2014, the three brothers turned their reminiscing into research at the Millville Public Library where they scoured The Millville Daily Republican and The Bridgeton Evening News. Their research turned into a book: “An Early History of Tennis in Millville, New Jersey.”
The book tells the history of tennis in Millville from the 1880s through the 1950s.
“It is an odd project,”Aronoff said. “Remy was a pretty good player. He played for the high school from 1956 to ’58, and the team was undefeated for those three years. He continued to play for the college level and continued to play for several years for Millville in the South Jersey league, so he knew some of the players.”
The brothers interviewed local former players from the late ’50s and their families for the book. According to Aronoff, the tennis talent in Millville was mostly natural if not odd in its frequency and that families in the area through the 1940s and ’50s generally came from modest means, and lessons were few and far between.
Readers can draw their own conclusions as to why there was a high population of superior tennis players from Millville as they sift through the history of the book complete with diagrams, maps and photos of some of South Jersey’s great players.
“The feedback has mostly been coming from the people who are still around who were a part of it,” Aronoff said. “They’re glad we did. Once the history is gone, no one thinks about it anymore.”
Aronoff said he and his brothers hope other people in shore towns begin to dig up their city’s sports history and take it down. After about two years of research, the family’s tennis memories can be shared with South Jersey through their book.
“It will at least let people know that there was a really good group of players that came out of this town,” Aronoff said.