Valentine Was A Force On, Off the Court

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Valentine Was A Force On, Off the Court

RICHMOND– Tennis was one of E. Massie Valentine’s biggest passions in life, and he will be remembered as much for his playing skills as well as his numerous contributions to the local and regional game.

Massie Valentine passed away on August 3 following a long illness. He was 82.

One of Valentine’s most significant contributions came in helping start the Fidelity Bankers Life Invitational indoor tournament at the old Arena in 1966. Finding a sponsor for the eight-man amateur field was necessary.

Tournament Director Lou Einwick said Valentine played an important part in getting the tournament off the ground.

“Massie knew all of the right people and had all of the right connections,” said Einwick, one of Valentine’s best friends. “He was the one who contacted Fidelity Bankers Life. He knew Dick Guilford [executive vice-president of Fidelity].”

The tournament later moved to the Coliseum and became one of the highlights of the area sports scene.

Valentine served as president of the Richmond Tennis Patrons Association (now Richmond Tennis Association) for two years (1962-63) and also endowed a tennis scholarship at the University of Virginia, his alma mater.

Valentine won the Boys’ 15-under Virginia singles and doubles championships in 1948 when he was just 14. He attended St. Christopher’s but moved to Woodberry Forest, where he served as captain of the tennis team from 1950 to 1952.

After graduation, Massie went to U.Va., where he played on the team from 1953-55.

He teamed with Henry Valentine to reach the doubles final of the city tournament in 1954 when the event was held at the Country Club of Virginia.

“Massie was a hell of a good doubles player,” said Henry Valentine. “It was of much more interest to him than singles. It’s sort of a thinking man’s game.”

It was the eighth straight year that Henry Valentine had been in the final, having won three of them with Shelton Horsley.

The following year (1955), the Valentines reached the semifinals together.

Massie Valentine went on to win the city doubles five times, beginning with Bobby Payne in 1957. He claimed four of those in a row from 1962-65.

Three of those titles came with O.H. Parrish and one with Bruce Sylvia

“He was smart,” said Parrish. “I don’t remember anybody any quicker at the net than Massie in his prime.”

Massie Valentine was also a two-time state doubles champion, taking the crown in 1962 with Hal Burrows and the following year with Parrish. The latter duo were runners-up in 1966-67.

Parrish said Valentine supported tennis his whole life.

“He played a leadership role in tennis in Richmond,” said Parrish. “He was much more than just a tennis player.”

Valentine served as captain of the local Hotchkiss Cup team that competed against Norfolk, Washington and Baltimore. He also served as captain of the Middle Atlantic squad that played teams from the New England, Eastern and Middle States sections in the Church Cup.

For all of his contributions to the game, Massie Valentine was inducted into the Richmond Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.