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Carol Baily is a Colorado tennis legend who rose to No. 51 in the world rankings in 1980 before collecting 28 senior-age division national titles.
However, back in 1969, Baily graduated from Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale having appeared in just one organized high school tennis match — as the only girl on the court.
“I played No. 1 singles and we went to play Fountain Valley Boys School in Colorado Springs. They didn’t have a place for me to change my clothes,” said Baily, now a 71-year-old Steamboat resident. “We won and I won my match. It was a big deal that this girl came and played on the team. They thought I was some kind of ringer.”
Organized high school athletics were in their infancy for girls in that pre-Title IX era. Baily spent her freshman and sophomore years at Boulder High. Her only options for sports, Baily said, were either pep club or cheerleading. She found more opportunities after transferring schools. But gaining equal sports access was slow.
“We played field hockey on the cow pasture,” Baily said. “But we would play the local ranchers’ wives.”
Baily later walked on to play tennis at Arizona State in the early 1970s and the team won a pair of NCAA championships. But she finished out her college degree at CU when the school did not have a women’s tennis program. Baily said: “I went from playing seven days a week in college to pretty much none.”
That didn’t stop her from pursuing a long-and-successful tennis career over multiple decades.
Baily became a touring professional with appearances in the U.S. and Australian Opens. She also combined to win 41 major state titles in Colorado. Baily went on to even greater success nationally playing in the senior-age division. Upon reflection, she is thankful that future generations of young girls didn’t have the same barriers to playing sports thanks to Title IX protections.
“It’s wonderful that girls have so many options for where they can go to school and earn a sports scholarship,” Baily said. “There was no such a thing when I was growing up. But I’m so glad that young girls have the opportunity now.”
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