By Lanier Laney
Did you know there is a Beaufort resident who is one of the highest ranked
tennis players in the United States in the age 45 men’s category?
Beaufort native Larry Scheper grew up in the Northwest Quadrant of the Beaufort Historic District and began playing tennis on the courts there at an early age after being inspired by Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. From Beaufort High School, he went on to win a full tennis scholarship to Grambling State University in Louisiana
after which he played on the professional circuit for many years. He attended Van Der Meer Tennis University to become a Certified Tennis Professional listed on the National Professional Tennis Registry. He began to teach tennis at high schools in Columbia, then at Benedict College and on to the International Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Florida.
He met his beloved wife, Sandra, who graduated from Benedict College and was a Cytogenetic Technologist, while teaching tennis lessons at Greenview Park in Columbia. They married and have two wonderful daughters: Kimberly, who is in the Army and stationed in Hawaii, and Jada, age 10, who attends Beaufort Elementary.
Larry and his wife decided to move back home to the community he grew up in the Northwest Quadrant.
He said, “That way I would be able to help the kids special to me and remind me of who I am and where I am from.”
He founded the Scheper Tennis Academy here and is also now the popular head boys and girls tennis coach at Beaufort Academy.
He also earned the nickname “Water Festival Master” over the years for being the winningest player in the history of the Water Festival Tennis Tournaments — taking home more than 20 number 1 titles since it began. Larry also recently competed this past summer in the prestigious 95th Annual American Tennis Association National
Championships in Florida. At the tournament he won a trio of matches to earn the top national title for singles in men aged 45.
His 10-year-old daughter also finished third in the 12-and-under division nationally, while his wife Sandra came home a runner-up in 40-and-over doubles play.
While happy about his family’s accomplishments, Larry says he also feels great joy when giving back to the community where his young dreams were born.
His wife Sandra joins him in this endeavor, helping him to run Scheper Tennis Academy where Larry teaches students to try and aim for the top with positive thinking and motivation and to improve upon their skills, to the best of their ability, while enjoying the game. Larry also insists that his students always practice giving 100 percent effort.
Says Larry, “Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson inspired me to give back to the community like they embraced theirs.”
Hopefully, through Larry’s lessons, students in Beaufort today will not only learn great skills on the tennis court, but will also learn the great rewards of giving back.