It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend and 1999 Texas Tennis Hall of Fame member, Fred Kniffen, who passed away on June 24, 2020 at the age of 84.
Kniffen was born in Clyde, Texas in 1935. As a high school player in Clyde, he was the UIL Class B boys singles state champion in 1954. Kniffen attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene where he helped bring the HSU tennis program to national prominence from 1954 to 1958. He won Border Conference singles and doubles titles in 1957 and 1958.
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, the National Junior College Men’s Coach of the Year twice and National Junior College Women’s Coach of the Year twice.
Kniffen was married to his wife Carolyn, who passed away in 2018. They had four children, including daughters Janet Kniffen Scholl and Judy Kniffen Clardy who both were national champions for their father at Tyler Junior College.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, June 28 at Shiloh Road Church of Christ,1801 Shiloh Road in Tyler, Texas.