tennis players, one of whom worked as a hitting partner for guests staying at the Cap Juluca hotel. Johnson asked what their career goals were and was surprised to learn that each had dreams of going to school in the U.S. That fall, with Johnson’s assistance, Mitchelle Lake and Shawn Romney were attending college in this country and last spring, they were the No.1 doubles team at Gardner Webb University, a Division II school in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. One of their goals now is to promote tennis on Anguilla, which they have done for the past two years with BET as the major sponsor of their annual clinic.
Both students speak highly of Johnson, which is only natural, but it’s clear that their critique of his game is no put on. “On a USTA scale, he’s about a 2.5 to 3.0, which is pretty good for a person who has to spend most of his time running a company,” says Romney. “His first serve is very consistent. He hardly ever misses it. But his second serve is his weapon.”
Johnson says he tries to get in two or three matches a week and he takes lessons every weekend. However, when the demands of running the first Black-owned company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange knocks him off that schedule, he knows there’s always the possibility of slipping out that back door early one morning.
To understand Earlene Cox’s tennis drive, first you have to understand what drove her to tennis. Go back 23 years to 1974 when she was four months removed from having received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Staring her straight in the face were three more years of studies to get her Juris Doctorate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, so Cox did what any serious- minded student would: She took up tennis. This would be her diversion, her occasional attempt to exercise. But faster than she could say 15- love, she was head over heels in love.
“I found that I enjoyed the challenge of it — just being out there alone playing against somebody else,” she says. “You have to understand that my background is law, and I love a good challenge. To me, tennis and law are a lot alike. To do both you have to be smart and take risks.”
Since graduating from college, Cox has had no trouble finding challenges or taking risks. She hooked up with IBM in 1978 as a tax law clerk in the Corporate Tax Department and became a tax attorney the following year. Her steady and impressive climb through the company led to her to being named Director of U.S. Tax Operations for IBM Credit Corporation in 1995 and Director of International Taxes last year.
Her growth and development in tennis has been just as rewarding. She is a 12-year veteran of the USTA team tennis circuit and a regular at the Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge.
Until recently, her forte in