John Hennen

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John Hennen of Chattanooga has dominated the sport of racquetball on a national level as few other athletes have in any sport. Although racquetball is not a sport that garners glitzy headlines in the newspapers, the dedication, hard work, and talent necessary to achieve top-level success is as demanding as in any “major” sport. In 1995 Hennen was selected as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Co-Amateur Athlete of the Year. He has won thirteen national racquetball championships, six in singles competition and seven in doubles. Four of those titles came in successive years in which he won both the singles and doubles competitions. Shortly after his Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame recognition in 1985, Hennen was diagnosed with vasculitis, a disease which led to a loss of both kidneys, many months of rehabilitation and dialysis, and ultimately a transplant in 1996. While recovering from his near-death experience, Hennen was honored with induction into the National Racquetball Hall of Fame. Then in October 1998, he and partner Ed Nemen captured his thirteenth and perhaps most coveted national title in the 50+ doubles competition at Baltimore, Maryland. In discussing this latest achievement, Hennen said: “It just doesn’t mean that much to me, but what does is, if I could, by playing and winning just give one person hope in overcoming whatever their problem might be, well, maybe that’s why the Good Lord kept me around.” John Hennen, in his chosen sport and in life, is a true competitor whose achievements should instill pride in all Tennesseans.

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