Updated: Sep 5, 2021
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Texas Tennis Hall of Fame member, Bill Scanlon, who passed away peacefully yesterday at the age of sixty-four in Park City, Utah after a brief struggle with aggressive cancer.
Scanlon, born in Dallas in 1956, was an accomplished tennis player at the junior, collegiate and professional levels. He won the NCAA singles championship in 1976 as a sophomore at Trinity University, beating UCLA’s Peter Fleming in the finals in Corpus Christi. Within a year, he reached the ATP Top 30.
Scanlon’s tennis career peaked in the early eighties. In 1983, he beat John McEnroe in the round of 16 of the 1983 US Open. He went on to reach the semis before losing to the eventual champion, Jimmy Connors. In January 1984, Scanlon reached a career-high ranking of No. 9 in the world.
During his career, Scanlon earned wins over six players who were once No. 1 in the world, including: Stan Smith, Ilie Nastase, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi. Overall professionally he had 11 singles and 4 doubles titles.
The Golden Set
Scanlon achieved a golden set during the WCT Gold Coast Classic in 1983, winning the second set without losing a point. Scanlon’s golden set—winning all 24 points played— is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. A plaque of the scorecard is on display at the Texas Tennis Museum. The achievement is also represented in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Life After Retirement
Scanlon founded the Dallas Youth Foundation in 1984 to provide sports activities to Dallas area youth, featuring professional tennis players, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks, and Olympic athletes. He served on the ATP Board of Directors, the board of the Southern California Tennis Association and the USTA Davis Cup committee. He was chairman of the Carl Reiner Celebrity Pro-Am tournament and was co-founder of the Beverly Hills Invitational. Scanlon was inducted into Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986 and the ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2004, Scanlon authored the book Bad News for McEnroe: Blood, Sweat, and Backhands with John, Jimmy, Ilie, Ivan, Bjorn, and Vitas. In 2014, he wrote Zen Tennis - Playing in the Zone with co-author Dr. Joe Parent.