Former Ardmore High School tennis coach Raymond Kelly will be inducted into the Oklahoma Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Feb. 11.
Kelly coached the girls and boys tennis teams at Ardmore from 1975-1982, winning four state championships and several state runner-up awards, as well.
“You’re always grateful for being recognized for something that you’ve done,” Kelly said. “We had some really good years, good players, and really good people to work with. It was an exciting part of my career.
“I came to Ardmore at a time when everybody was really getting into tennis and learning to play. I had adults wanting to learn. There are great people there. I still keep in contact with quite a few of them.”
A native of Alexandria, Alabama, Kelly landed the job to become the AHS tennis coach through his brother-in-law’s father-in-law Irvin Carter, who was the assistant superintendent for Ardmore Public Schools at the time.
Kelly accepted the job after spending four years serving in the Air Force.
After starring in basketball during high school and his freshman year at Freed Hardeman College (Henderson, Tenn.), he realized there wasn’t much of a future for him in basketball.
So, it was then when Kelly took up tennis.
Kelly’s interest in tennis really took off after he learned about not only the playing and teaching aspects but also the business side of the sport from Jim Cantrell while the two were stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi.
“We would be stringing tennis rackets in the garage,” Kelly said.
Kelly says his predecessor Mark Milligan helped to lay the groundwork for Ardmore’s success.
The Lady Tigers were the state runner-up in Kelly’s first year at the helm.
Ardmore’s boys captured the school’s first state championship in tennis under Kelly’s guidance.
Kelly promoted tennis extensively in the community through his summer camps and work with the local tennis association.
A longtime member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association, Kelly also initiated the Ardmore Open tennis tournament and served as tournament director for many years.
Kelly, along with five others (Phil Barnes, Mike Kennedy, Gene Land, Bill Nelson and Frank Ward) will be honored at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Luncheon, which will be held at the Quail Creek Golf and Country Club in Oklahoma City, from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11.
Kelly says he is excited to be inducted alongside Nelson, who coached at rival Ada, starting in 1971, and directed the Cougars to six boys and girls state titles.
For ticket information, send an email to Brian Bogert at email@example.com or call (405) 323-3032.