This story is part of a weekly summer series recycling of "Curt's Replays" column by longtime IR sports writer Curt Synness. The article on Alice Harvey was first published on July 23, 2003.
Alice Harvey started somewhat late in life with the game of tennis, at 38 years of age. But once she began playing, she quickly made up for lost time by winning the Montana Open Women's 35 Doubles state championship in 1976, with partner Nancy Hotchkiss, only five years after taking up the game.
And she proved it was no fluke the next year when she and Hotchkiss successfully defended their title in 1977.
What is almost as surprising as her quick success, is the fact that it took her so long to start playing the game in the first place, considering that her dad, Jack Reddy, is one of the most recognizable names in local tennis lore.
In 1960, Reddy and Bill Scribner revitalized the local net sport and reactivated the city tournaments, and for the next 19 years (1960-78) Alice's father served as the president of the Helena Tennis Club.
Reddy had started playing the net sport when he was 10 years old, and won his first city championship in 1930, in Amesbury, Massachusetts, at the age of 17.
He went on to win numerous tournaments at different levels the remainder of his life, so naturally one would think that his daughter would also pick-up a racket at an early age and start batting tennis balls around too, right? Nope.
"When I grew up in Flint, Michigan," recalled Harvey, "both of my parents were avid tennis players, and they always wanted me to play, too. But I wasn't interested. I had more fun just running around and playing in the neighborhood with my friends."
It wasn't until years later, when Alice started taking her and husband Bill Harvey's five children (Mike, Dave, Paula, Karen and Bob) to tennis lessons, that she became attracted to the sport.
"I watched my kids play and said to myself, 'Hey, that looks like fun,' so I started playing," she related.
Alice started practicing with her husband (Bill was a recreational netter) and taking instruction from Mike Hallowell - and of course her dad gave her a few pointers here and there - and found out that she had a natural talent.
In the 1977 City Tournament, Harvey made it all the way to the singles quarterfinals before dropping a hard-fought match to Kathy Murphy, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6. In the doubles competition, Carla Hobbs and Alice defeated the team of Carol Christnacht/Nancy Eustance in the quarters, 6-1, 7-6, before falling to Karen Eggan and Sue Leaphart 6-3, 6-2 in the semis.
Harvey and Hotchkiss bested hometown opponents both times to garner their two state championships, beating Ree Forbes and Joan Bishop (6-1, 6-2) in 1976, and then came from behind to defeat Lila Bock and Ruth Lewis (4-6, 6-3, 6-2) in 1977.
In addition to the pair of state championships, the talented Harvey captured at least two city or ladder singles crowns (1977, 1979) and took second four times (1978, 1980, 1981, 1983). She won three Helena Women's 35 Doubles titles, in 1978 with partner Judy Pinter, in 1981 with LaVonne Davis and in 1982 with Sue Curtis; and one City Mixed A Doubles 35 championship, with John Crockett in 1984.
A few of her runnerup trophies include the 1980 city doubles and the 1981 Butte Open 35 singles tourney.
"I was fortunate to have great partners in each of those tournaments that we won," Harvey modestly pointed-out.
Harvey's tennis career came crashing to an end in June of 1987 while playing at a picnic at Barney Park.
"I jumped-up for a high lob and then came down off-balance, breaking my wrist and my hip when I landed," she explained. "And I was hauled off to the hospital in an ambulance."
And although she doesn't play tennis anymore, Alice hasn't slowed down a whole lot, keeping active on the links these days by golfing about three times a week.
"The more I play, the worse I get," she laughed. "But I keep hoping that the next game will be my best."