Induction Year: 1981
Wilmer Allison (1904–1977) was born in San Antonio, Texas on December 8, 1904, one of two children of Dr. and Mrs. Wilmer L. Allison. His family moved to Fort Worth during his youth. He graduated from Fort Worth Central High School, where he was an outstanding amateur baseball player. He enrolled at the University of Texas in 1925.
At the University of Texas, he began an internationally acclaimed career as a tennis player. Under coach Daniel A. Penick, he won the Southwest Conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association championships in 1927. Allison was ranked in the top 10 eight times by the USLTA, including number one rankings in 1934 and 1935. Allison and his doubles partner, John Van Ryn, teamed up to earn back to back Wimbledon doubles titles in 1929 and 1930. They remained a formidable Davis Cup team until 1935.
Allison achieved the number-one ranking in the United States in 1934 and again in 1935 and won the United States National Open Championship in 1935 by defeating Sydney Wood for the title at Forest Hills, New York. Along with partner Van Ryn he claimed National Doubles in 1931 and 1935. Allison competed on behalf of the United States in Davis Cup competition from 1928 until 1937. He retired from full-time competition in 1937 after a serious injury to his lower abdomen.
After the injury in 1936 cut his playing career short, Allison continued to impact the game through coaching. He served as an assistant to Penick at the University of Texas from 1938 to 1941, when he left to join the army air corps. After his discharge he returned to the University in 1947 and served as Penick’s assistant until 1957. That year he became the head tennis coach, where he served until his retirement in 1972. His teams won four Southwest Conference team championships, three singles titles, and one doubles title. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1957 and is a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor. Allison was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1963.