Simonton died in November of last year at the age of 73, but those who knew him best wanted to make sure his memory would live on at the tennis center.
So on Sunday, during a ceremony that included friends and family members of Simonton, a new shade canopy was dedicated in his honor.
The canopy was built by Dick Daniel and was funded through donations from Simonton’s friends and family.
A second canopy was also built through funds from the United States Tennis Association, the Georgia chapter of the USTA and by the Chattahoochee Valley Tennis Association.
“It’s a way to kind of remember him and honor him,” said Bill Champion, who knew Simonton well as a fellow player and as the head tennis pro at the tennis center. “We want to make sure people still remember him. We appreciate him, and we’re thinking about him.”
Simonton, who graduated from Lilburn High and went on to run track and field at the University of Georgia from 1955 to 1959, was a key figure in the LaGrange tennis community.
He was, as Champion says, “a great player.”
Simonton was a teammate of Champion’s on a team that finished fourth in the country in the USTA team-tennis competition.
Simonton was also an instructor, and he was out on the courts teaching the sport he love weeks before he died, even as his health deteriorated.
“He had a lot of stuff going on that probably for most normal people it would have immobilized them,” Champion said.
Simonton wasn’t the type to complain about anything, Champion said.
“He had a lot of stuff going on that he wouldn’t tell us,” he said.
Champion said Simonton brought plenty of joy into the lives of those who knew him, and Sunday’s ceremony was a reflection of that he said.
“It was kind of a celebration day to remember him,” Champion said. “It was a good day.”