Induction Year: 1999
Fred Kniffen (1935-2020) coached two NAIA and four Junior College National Championship teams during a successful coaching career. He was winner of the Texas High School Class “B” Singles Championship and attended Hardin-Simmons University on a tennis scholarship. In 1958 he won the Border Conference Doubles Championship.
Kniffen began his coaching career at Cooper High School in Abilene and was also the tennis pro at Rose Park Tennis Center from 1965-1973. In 1973 he accepted a position with Tyler Junior College. He is credited with starting Tennis Tech, the first college program to offer a degree in teaching tennis. In 1985 Kniffen went to work for the University of Texas – Tyler where he remained until 1997. He coached 31 Junior College All-Americans and 28 NAIA All-Americans.
Kniffen was a member of the Hardin-Simmons Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame, The Texas Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the National Junior College Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the UT Tyler Athletics Hall of Fame.. He was voted the NAIA Coach of the Year three times, National Junior College Men’s Coach of the Year twice and National Junior College Women’s Coach of the Year twice.
Kniffen as the Cooper High School tennis coach