Press Release – www.itatennis.com
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association proudly announced the 2017 ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame induction class on Tuesday, with contributor Nick Bollettieri (Spring Hill College), players James Blake (Harvard University) and Matias Boeker (University of Georgia) joining coaches Francis Baxter (University of Central Oklahoma men 1970-2006 and women 1980-2006) and Bill Otta (Saddlebrook College 1975-2000) comprising the five-person class.
“On behalf of the ITA, I am thrilled that this distinguished class will be entering the ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame,” Timothy Russell, ITA Chief Executive Officer and 2015 ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame inductee said. “The five inductees showcase the very best of the breadth and depth of college tennis, an incredible array of talent, dedication, and commitment to our sport. I am looking forward to the 2017 induction ceremony in Athens, home of the ITA Collegiate Tennis Men’s Hall of Fame, and this year’s NCAA Division I Championships.”
The 2017 ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Men’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement Banquet will be held onThursday, May 25, at the Georgia Center during the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Championships, May 18-29, at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.
“This is a very accomplished and interesting class of 2017 and we’re very excited about adding all five members to the Hall of Fame,” John Frierson, curator of the ITA Collegiate Tennis Men’s Hall of Fame. “We’re inducting two exceptional players, two very successful coaches from the Division II, NAIA and Junior College divisions, and another individual in Nick Bollettieri that would surely be on the Mount Rushmore of greatest and most important tennis coaches of all time.
“We always love it when the NCAA Championships return to Athens and we get to induct a class here at the home of the Hall of Fame, where so many great players have played in so many big matches,” added Frierson. “A lot of us remember well watching James Blake and Matias Boeker perform here at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and it’s going to be a thrill to put the perfect coda on their careers by adding them to the Hall of Fame.”
Francis Baxter, Coach/University of Central Oklahoma (men: 1970-2006, women: 1980-2006). Francis Baxter enjoyed tremendous success during his long tenure as tennis coach at UCO, directing the men’s program for 36 years (1970-06) and women for 26 years (1980-2006). Prior to coaching college tennis, he spent 14 years coaching high school tennis and won three state titles. At Central Oklahoma, he led the men’s and women’s teams to six NAIA District 9 championships in the 1980s while taking the men to three NAIA national tournaments and the women to one. Baxter was named District 9 Coach of the Year eight times in the 1980s. Baxter also guided his teams to eight combined NCAA Division II national tournament appearances, six for the men and two for the women. Baxter was named Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year for the women in 1998 and the men in 2004, while also claiming Division II Coach of the Year accolades for the men in 1996. He coached 14 players who earned NAIA or Division II All-America honors a combined 25 times, including the school’s first-ever Division II national champion (Charl Bornman). Baxter was also the driving force behind UCO hosting the NCAA Division II national tournament in 1991, ’92, ’93 and ’96 in addition to the ITA/Rolex National Small College Championships in 1993 and ’94. As a player, Francis served as captain of a United States international team from 1993-01, leading the 60-and-over men to the Von Cramm Cup title seven straight years from 1993-99 and taking the 50-and-over men to the Fred Perry Cup crown in 2000 and 2001. He was inducted into the Missouri Valley Tennis Association Hall of Fame in in 1991 and the Central Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2009.