Miller Set High Standards on Court, as Official

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Miller Set High Standards on Court, as Official

RICHMOND– Clifton “Cliff” Miller Jr. will be inducted posthumously into the Richmond Tennis Hall of Fame on Oct. 24 at the Westwood Club.

Miller captured the city singles championship six times during his career.

Former city and state champion Shelton Horsley said Miller was hard to forget.

“There was never a better competitor than Cliff,” said Horsley.

Horsley and Miller played each other in the Country Club of Virginia tournament. Horsley said Miller was a tough opponent and a supportive coach.

“He beat me one year in the tournament when I was 14 or 15 and I beat him the next year,” said Horsley. “He basically was very helpful in trying to help guys like Henry Valentine and myself get started playing tennis. We owe him a lot.”

After helping the University of Virginia’s basketball team to several successful seasons, Miller returned to his hometown of Richmond.

Miller won his first city tournament in 1930, beating Jack Lewis in straight sets in the final. He returned to the winner’s circle in 1932 to begin a run of five straight city championships.

Miller holds the men’s record for most consecutive titles.

“He played very much an offensive game,” said Horsley.

Miller’s reign of the city courts was ended by up-and-coming Bobby Leitch in the semifinals in 1937. Leitch went on to claim five city titles of his own.

In addition to his singles crowns, Miller teamed with Bobby Cabell Sr. to capture the city doubles championship.

Miller reached the singles final on four other occasions, the last in 1944 when he was 39 years old.

Cliff Miller 1Although he played competitively into his 50s, Miller was known as one of the best chair umpires in the area.

“Toward the end, his knees were so bad, it took about four people to get him up in the chair,” said former city and state champion O.H. Parrish. “But he loved tennis and being part of the scene.”

Miller served as chair umpire for the professional indoor tournament at the Arena and later at the Coliseum.

“He was always willing to donate his time,” said tournament director Lou Einwick.

Miller died in 1986 at 81.

“Cliff was a class act,” said Horsley.