In the second edition of our “How is….?” section, we have the privilege of getting back in touch with a true Utah legend. He set many firsts at the University of Utah, a two time All-American who became a highly distinguished professional player with wins over Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and many others. Of course, we are talking about Jim Osborne.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Osborne joined the U in 1963 and quickly made a name for himself as the No. 1 singles and doubles player. He was the first Ute to earn All-American status in 1965, and repeated the feat in 1966. He made it into the semifinals in the NCAA tournament in both singles and doubles (with partner Mike Martines) and was a two-time WAC Champion at No. 1 singles.
Osborne played on the professional tour from 1967 through 1972 and won 5 tour doubles titles. In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, he earned the bronze medal in mixed doubles with partner Jane Bartkowicz. In the same year, he was part of Team USA that won the Davis Cup, defeating Australia in the finals.
Osborne ranked in the top 10 in the US in doubles for ten years (as high as #2) and in singles for three years (as high as #7). He was inducted into the University of Utah Hall of Fame in 1990, in both the Utah Tennis and Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, the ITA Hall of Fame (2004) and the Hawaii Pacific Hall of Fame in 2005.
After graduating from the U with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1969, Osborne became a true teacher of the game and changed the tennis lives of many in the state of Utah. He was a teaching professional at many local tennis clubs and, in two different stints, an assistant coach at the U, until he became the head men’s tennis coach at BYU in 1988. After a successful coaching career, he retired in 2004.
Q: So, how is Jim Osborne?
Osborne: I am doing fine, thank you.
Q: What do you do, now that you are retired?
Osborne: I try to be a good husband to my wife of 42 years, Kimberly, and a good grandpa. I enjoy being a grandpa and love to spend time in Elsinore, Utah with my daughter Libbie and her two sons William (9) and Arthur (6). We don’t get to see as much of my daughter Allie and her two children, Phoebe (4) and James (1), as they live in Redding, California. But we try to see them as much as we can.
Q: How did the University of Utah, and specifically your membership of the men’s tennis team affect your career?
Osborne: I was the first in my family on either side to go to college and a tennis scholarship made it possible. I was a talented, lazy Hawaiian, but coach (Harry) James made me work. More importantly, coach James and his family made me want to give something back to the next generation of tennis players by becoming a coach someday myself.
Q: What is the most memorable moment as a Ute?
Osborne: I guess getting to the semifinals of the NCAAs playing against Arthur Ashe. Unfortunately I had to default because of a partial lung collapse in the third set.
Q: How do you look back at your time at the University of Utah?
Osborne: My college years were definitely the most fun times of my life!
Q: What is in store next for you?
Osborne: Trying to stay healthy.