Tom Gorman demonstrates his backhand at La Quinta.

Holding Court

One of a Kind

Tennis champion Tom Gorman shares his love of the game with guests at La Quinta Resort & Club

With a winning résumé highlighted by seven singles titles, nine doubles titles, and U.S. Davis Cup championships as both a player and team captain, tennis ace Tom Gorman fondly recalls how a game against a legend boosted his confidence—and his career.

"I was nervous and starstruck," says Gorman. But in taking a lone set from legendary player Rod "Rocket" Laver at the 1971 Italian Open, Gorman realized he could rival the sport's biggest names. "I was thinking how I'm just a kid, and I won a set off Rod Laver!"

Although Gorman lost the match, he felt that if he was able to win one set against Laver, someday he could beat him. Within two months Gorman did just that, shocking the tennis world when he bested Laver in quarterfinal matches at both the London Grass Court Championships and Wimbledon.

Two years before retiring from the tour in 1980, Gorman was among a consortium of notable players who founded the tennis club at La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in La Quinta, California. So it's only fitting that he has returned to share his love of the game with guests as the director of tennis.

Coaching is second nature for Gorman, who is the most successful captain in U.S. Davis Cup history. His 1992 "dream team" consisted of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, and John McEnroe.

If I can help someone improve their forehand, backhand, serve, or volley, and see a smile when they hit a ball in a way they've never hit it before, I feel like I've done a good job," he says. "I love that part of teaching."