Clarence C. Chaffee '24
Year Inducted: 1975
Clarence C. Chaffee ’24 is like vintage wine. He gets better as the years go by. Last summer, at age 73, he won the National outdoor Singles and Doubles titles, only two of the 15 national tennis championships captured since 1971 in the 70 and over category by the tall, white-haired competitor with the whirling backhand. The Williamstown, Mass., resident had a particularly good year in 1974, winning national championships in Indoor Singles, Grasscourt Singles and Hardcourt Doubles. The year before that, he won all four national doubles titles. In the New England rankings, Chaffee has been number one in both the Senior Men’s 70 Singles and Doubles from 1971 to the present. For the years 1968-70, he was ranked first three times in the 65 and over Men’s Singles and twice in the Men’s Doubles. Chaffee, his posture ramrod straight like an Etruscan warrior, has been called the Jimmy Connors of the men’s 70 group. The faster the surface, the better his attacking game. Where most of the men in his age bracket settle for leisurely baseline play, “Chafe” is not adverse to charging the net. That was how he won the Nationals in 1974. A stickler for conditioning, Chaffee lifts weights to strengthen his wrists and forearms and thinks nothing of running a mile or so on the Williams track. As tennis coach at Williams from 1937 to 1970, Chaffee never experienced a losing season, winning the N.E. championship in 1957 and amassing 19 Little Three titles. His soccer teams were N.E. champs in 1960 and 1961, and his 1958 squash team won the national title. Through the years, Clarence Chaffee’s personality has been as first class as his tennis. “A gentlemen’s gentlemen,” someone once called him. That about says it all.