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MEMPHIS HAS LONG BEEN a basketball town. Many say the city’s love affair with roundball began with the Memphis State Tigers’ 1957 run to the National Invitation Tournament finals (a time when the NIT was the equal of the NCAA tournament on a national scale). A half-century later, the Bluff City finds itself with two prominent teams to fill their winter evenings, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers Men's Basketball team under the same arena roof at the FedExForum.
The Memphis Grizzlies finished the 2015-2016 regular season with an average field goal of 39.4% and an overall record of 42 wins and 40 losses under Coach David Joerger. The Grizzlies made it to the NBA playoffs for the 6th-consecutive season but fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Forward Zac Randolph averaged 15.3 points per game as did Guard Mike Conley. They will start the 2016-2017 season under new head coach David Fizdale, formerly an assistant with the Miami Heat.
Under head coach Josh Pastner, the Memphis Tiger's Men's Basketball team finished the 2015-2016 season with a 19-15 record and but fell to UConn in the American Athletic Conference Championship game. Freshman Dedric Lawson had 21 point, 11 rebound double-double and was named to the AAC All-Tournament Team. Overall, 51 former Memphis Tigers players have been selected in the NBA Draft. In 2016 they welcomed new head Orlando “Tubby” Smith, who has a 557-276 record, was National Coach of the Year three times, and in 2016 was named both the Sporting News National Coach of the Year and Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year.
When the weather gets warmer and the seasons begin to change, so do the sporting events we attend. The Memphis Redbirds are a Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Memphis Redbirds call the nation’s top minor league park by Baseball America, AutoZone Park home.
During both 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Redbirds played for the Pacific Coast League Championship and are ready for another winning season this year. The 2016 Redbirds season will include fireworks shows, giveaways, theme nights, and entertainment acts with a fun, affordable and family atmosphere.
The $3 million renovation of FedEx Park heralded the return to national prominence for the University of Memphis Tiger's baseball program. The new stadium and clubhouse, which is located on the University's Park Avenue Campus, features new locker rooms, and indoor hitting and pitching areas, and equipment and training rooms in the clubhouse. Coach Daron Schoenrock and his Tigers made it to the semifinals in the 2016 American Athletic Conference Tournament, and two juniors were drafted in the 2016 MLB Draft: Nolan Blackwood to the Oakland A’s and Darien Tubbs to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Each fall the Memphis Tiger's football team returns to kick off a new season in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, which also hosts two major annual events, the Southern Heritage Classic in September and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Classic around New Year’s. In 2012, former Memphis Tiger Nose Tackle Dontari Poe became the highest pick from Conference USA drafted in the NFL when he was selected 11th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. 2015 was a historic year in Tiger football, as they won their first 8 games and rose to No. 15 in the AP ranking, the highest in program history. Star Quarterback Paxton Lynch was picked 26th overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft. After four seasons with Memphis, head coach Justin Fuente was recruited by Virginia Tech, and the Tigers will kick off the 2016 under new head coach Mike Norvell, formerly with Arizona State University.
The Racquet Club of Memphis is home to the University of Memphis Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams. The Men’s team was ranked 40th in the nation in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in 2016, and they made their 3rd NCAA appearance in four seasons. The Women’s team was 3-17 in the 2016 season but upset the #6 seed to advance to the quarterfinals in the AAC Championship.
The Memphis Open, a professional tennis tournament, is held at the Racquet Club each February. Previously, it was called the U.S. National Indoor Championships and was the only combined Association of Tennis Professionals and Womens Tennis Professionals indoor event in the United States; the event was moved to Brazil in 2013 but the men’s event was eventually moved back and renamed the Memphis Open in 2015 as a ATP 250 event. Kei Nishikori from Japan won the Men's Singles event for the 4th year in a row.
If you prefer a view from the tee, the Memphis metro is home to more than 35 area golf courses and numerous regional courses only a short drive away, including Mirimichi, which is the first course to receive a Classic Sanctuary certification from Audubon International. The Memphis Golf Association currently stages five championship tournaments.
The annual FedEx St. Jude Classic is held at TPC Southwind. TPC Southwind was recently named as one of Golf World magazine's nationally ranked Exclusive PGA Tour Courses and has been hosting the FedEx St. Jude Classic since 1989. Since 1970, the event has generated over $26 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In 2016, 23 year old Daniel Berger won the FedEx St. Jude Classic, his first PGA Tour win. The 59th annual FedEx St. Jude Classic takes place on June 5-11, 2017.