| By Steven Kaplan

Tennis icon and Hall of Fame journalist Arthur "Bud" Collins Jr., the voice of the sport for generations, has died at the age of 86.

While Bud Collins was a self-described "hacker" as a tennis player, he was actually very good, winning the U.S. Indoor Mixed-Doubles Championships in 1961. There is no debate that he was a kind and generous gentleman, as well as a groundbreaking broadcaster.

I met Mr. Collins as he perennially volunteered to be the emcee of City Parks Foundation's annual fundraising dinner held in conjunction with the U.S. Open, and after seeing him, it was clear that he loved the sport. He was a walking encyclopedia of tennis knowledge.

Harvey Araton once wrote in The New York Times: "In the press box, Collins was Google before it existed." Yet, he was not for one moment so serious that he did not revel in the fun and sheer joy of the game. Bud Collins could be irreverent one moment, nicknaming the net cord judge at Wimbledon "Fingers Fortescue," and seconds later, offer a fascinating and brilliant historical insight into a championship match.

And of course, you have to mention his outrageously colorful pants. Chris Evert once famously turned to Bud Collins on Center Court after losing the Wimbledon finals to Martina Navratilova and quipped, "Nice pants Bud."

Indeed, Bud Collins was a nice person, with nice pants and a tennis legend who will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.

Steven Kaplan

Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.