Harold T. Southern (10/19/1916 – 9/18/2011) and Mildred F. Southern were considered the First Family of Winston-Salem Tennis. Southern played No. 1 for the Paladins at Furman University and continued playing competitively until he was 90 years old when he was ranked #4 nationally. Equally impressive was his promotion and support of tennis throughout North Carolina. In the 1950s and ’60s, Harold helped bring the Southern Championships to Winston-Salem and was instrumental in establishing Winston-Salem Tennis, Inc.
Along with Harold, Mildred, a former USTA Southern President, founded the Young Folks Tennis program which provides free lessons to children and funded the building for the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in Greensboro. In recognition of their generous sponsorship, the NCTA’s main offices and Hall of Fame are dedicated in their honor and center court at the Wake Forest Tennis Center was designated the Harold and Mildred Southern Stadium Court.
Daughter Deborah “Debbie” Leigh Southern was a fierce competitor during her premier junior days in North Carolina and at the University of Tennessee. Now in her 29th season as head coach of women’s tennis at Furman University, Debbie holds the title of “winningest women’s tennis coach in Paladin history” and in 2004 was inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.
The only non-tennis player of the family, son Harold “Hal” T. Southern, Jr. majored in music at Furman and went on to earn a master in music at the University of Illinois where he now manages the law library. Although no longer a pianist, Hal enjoys listening to jazz, running and storytelling.