Cherokee Nation citizen Vance McSpadden and tennis doubles partner Ron Cox helped Team USA capture the Gordon Trophy as part of the annual international seniors tennis competition between Canada and the United States.
Played alternately in Canada and the United States since 1949, this year’s competition was hosted at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio, near Cleveland on July 25-27. The Gordon Trophy is the second-longest international tennis competition, bested only by the Davis Cup.
Cox said everything about the event, from the pageantry of the opening ceremony to the competition to the awards dinner, was second to none.
“The event was done up so well. It was just like Wimbledon or the U.S. Open or the Davis Cup,” he said. “The Gordon Trophy event coordinators uniform you, march you out into the arena, play “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which for me as a veteran it is hard to hold the tears back, introduce the players, and it was all just first class.”
Cox is a household name in Tahlequah. He was inducted into the Northeastern State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.
Cox was a four-year letterman in both tennis and basketball for the Redmen. The Tahlequah High School graduate won a doubles state championship in 1959 for the Tigers.
Cox arrived at NSU in 1960. After his playing career he coached the women’s program for 21 years, starting in 1992.
He guided NSU to nine conference championships and his teams advanced to the national championships 17 times. Cox was a 2007 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year, a nine-time conference coach of the year and a five-time regional coach of the year. NSU compiled a 405-62 record during his time as coach.
Cox and McSpadden have paired together many times. They have been ranked No. 1 on multiple occasions in Oklahoma and the Missouri Valley in Men’s 35 Doubles, Men’s 45 Doubles and Men’s 55 Doubles. They captured the National Seniors Doubles Championship in 2006.
“My uncle participated in this event about 50 years ago, and so to be able to play in it myself was a bucket list moment,” said McSpadden, of Oklahoma City. “The experience is just humbling and special, and it meant a lot to play for my country, especially with Coach Cox, who I have played tennis with for more than 40 years.”
The McSpadden-Cox doubles team won both matches against their Canadian opponents. The two match wins helped lead Team USA to a 33 to 18 match win over Team Canada. It was both players’ first time to represent their country in the Gordon Trophy competition.
The 2019 version of Team USA was made up of 42 players from 11 different states and included seven from the state of Oklahoma.
“Playing with other Okies made the process a little easier for Vance and me,” Cox said. “We were able to get together with them, and they gave us some pointers, which helped us as rookies in the event.”
Cox and McSpadden will join Team USA for the 2020 edition of the Gordon Trophy competition in Canada at the London Hunt & Country Club in London, Ontario.