Texas Tennis Hall of Fame
Fred Kniffen, a tennis icon in Tyler and throughout the nation, was included into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame during a banquet and ceremony on Wednesday at Baylor University in Waco.
Kniffen, a noted player at the high school and collegiate level, led both Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler to national championships as head coach.
The ceremony was held as the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Championships were going on at Baylor.
Kniffen was a standout player at Hardin-Simmons University.
Kniffen led the Patriots to two NAIA National Championships in 1989 and 1994 while coaching at UT Tyler from 1985 to 1994. His teams also finished third in the country in 1987 and were national runners-up in 1988.
Besides the team championships, Kniffen coached Ken Olivier to the NAIA singles championship in 1989 and the duo of Olivier and Chris Harris to the doubles title that same year.
Kniffen first arrived in Tyler in 1973 as tennis coach of Tyler Junior College. During his tenure as coach of the Apaches, Kniffen won four NJCAA national championships, was named the National Junior College Men's Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1983, National Women's Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1984 and helped 31 players earn All-America honors.
TJC inducted Kniffen into its athletic department Circle of Honor in 2001.
Kniffen also was a member of the inaugural UT Tyler Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2012.
The 2015 ITA Hall of Fame class consists of six inductees: Kniffen and coach Jim Schwitters (University of Hawaii); players Jay Berger (Clemson University), Mark Merklein (University of Florida) and Jeff Morrison (University of Florida); and contributor Tim Russell (Northwestern University).
Under Kniffen's leadership, the Patriots tennis teams won the NAIA District 4 Championship every year. In 1987, Kniffen was named the Wilson National Coach of the Year.
Kniffen was honored with induction into the Texas Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993.
He has served as vice president of the Texas Professional Tennis Association and was named the organization's Outstanding Tennis Professional in 1971. The TPTA also honored Kniffen as its Coach of the Year in 1984.
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