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TTMHOF Mourns the Loss of Virginia Brown

Updated: May 13, 2023

The Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame mourns the loss of Texas Tennis Hall of Famer Virginia Annette Brown (Class of 1992), who passed away February 6 at the age of 85.

Brown was born June 22, 1937 in Fort Worth, Texas. Her cousin introduced her to tennis at the age of 15. Brown attended Baylor University, earning her bachelor's degree in 1959 and her master's in education from North Texas State University in 1967. She part of the doctoral program at Middlebury College in Vermont (1969), the University of California at Berkeley (1971), Texas Tech University (1971) and the University of Texas at Austin (1978).

While she resided in the state of Texas for most of her life, the game of tennis took Brown all over the world from the courts of Wimbledon as a player to the World Team Tennis Tour as a coach. Brown was a standout on the court, herself, winning the Texas state doubles championships annually from 1958 to 1962 as well as the Texas Intercollegiate doubles title in 1959 while at Baylor. In 1963, she received the biggest break of her playing career, competing at Wimbledon.

Brown was ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation as a professional before turning her attention to the next generation of tennis greats as a coach. A coaching veteran of more than 40 years, Brown was a pioneer in the early stages of Title IX, serving as the head women's and men's tennis coach at Odessa College (1963-80) and the head women's tennis coach at University of Texas-Permian Basin (1973-89).

Both programs experienced unprecedented success under Brown, who was named the NAIA Coach of the Year in 1985 and the NJCAA Coach of the Year six times (1969, 1970, 1976, 1978 and 1980 in women's and 1980 in men's). In total, Brown's teams captured a total of 14 national titles while at Odessa College as her women's program claimed eight championships during her tenure, while the men's team won six. Brown coached at total of 28 NJCAA All-Americans during her tenure at Odessa alone as both programs regularly ranked among the nation's elite.

Brown simultaneously spent eight years as a professional coach with World Team Tennis as well as an individual coach for numerous professionals. Her list of successful tennis standouts included Sandy Collins, who ranked as high as No. 17 in both singles and doubles during her career, Elise Burgin, a top-10 ranked doubles and top-30 singles player, as well as Jill Smoller, an established doubles player who is now an agent to tennis great Serena Williams with WME-IMG.

In addition to her role as a coach, Brown was instrumental in elevating collegiate tennis at the national level, serving as the President of the NJCAA Tennis Coaches Association from 1976-81 as well as a NAIA ranker from 1987-89. Brown, who was UTPB's Director of Athletics from 1987-88, served on many statewide and national committees throughout her coaching career, while also participating in tennis clinics across the country as well as the Special Olympics.

Brown was inducted the ITA Hall of Fame in 2016, the highest honor for a collegiate tennis coach. In 2000, she accepted the head women's tennis coaching position at Texas Tech where she led the Lady Raiders for three seasons to cap a 40-year coaching career.

Portions of this article were originally published by Odessa American on Feb. 11, 2023.

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