Induction Year: 2023
Fernando Velasco was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and first came to the United States as a high school foreign exchange student. During his year in Montana, this former diver and natural athlete was on their gymnastics and tennis teams and learned to play football. When he returned to Bolivia to finish high school, he played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis and won city swimming meets in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly as well as several tennis tournaments.
In 1963, his family immigrated to Chicago to start a new life. Velasco returned to Montana for junior college for a year, where he was on the basketball, gymnastics, and tennis teams. e transferred to Eastern Illinois University, where he was a superstar in soccer. An injury led him to switch to the tennis team, where he helped them win three conference championships. After graduating, he was hired as a high school Spanish teacher with soccer, tennis, and gymnastics coaching assignments. During the summers, he played tennis tournaments and worked as a tennis
pro at private clubs.
Velasco joined the USPTA in 1970 and became a full-time teaching pro in 1972. Between 1972-1979, he was elected to Secretary, Vice President, President, and Regional President for the USPTA Midwest Division. In 1976, he was selected as their first USPTA Pro of the Year.
In 1981, Velasco settled in Texas. He added a Master Professional title to his USPTA resumé in 1984 and then a PTR International Master Professional in 2008. He has earned tennis awards and titles bestowed upon him by organizations in three USTA sections, including USTA Texas Facility of the Year, PTR Pro of the Year, Wilson Regional Advisor Staff of the Year, National Tennis Industry Association – Commitment to the Industry, USPTA Texas Pro of the Year, Texas Section Senior Spirit of Tennis, Player of the Year (from multiple organizations), Tennis Legend Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Member of the Year and the Texas Caswell Service Award.
Velasco has held USPTA, PTR, Midwest, Texas, and National rankings in many divisions from Open to 80 and over, and frequently that ranking was #1. He especially enjoys playing Father/Daughter Nationals in
Chicago and Grandfather/Grandson Nationals in La Jolla annually.
Since 2016, Velasco has been employed as the Executive Director of the Capital Area Tennis Association in Austin. Under his leadership, CATA was recognized as USTA Texas CTA of the Year in 2019 and Organization of the Year in 2020. In 2022 USTA National declared CATA their CTA of the Year.
In his spare time, he writes articles for many tennis publications and gives seminars in English and Spanish to local, regional, and national organizations. For fun for the past nineteen years, he has performed in the world-renowned “Harlem Globetrotters in Tennis” show with Henri “Bijou” Elkins. The show combines tennis skills and comedy, entertaining tennis crowds in over 30 countries.
Fernando Velasco is the only member of the Class of 2023 for whom the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame is his second Hall of Fame induction. In 1995, the USPTA Midwest Section tapped him for membership in their HOF. And he’s probably the only member of any tennis HOF who was a junior national diving champion before coming to tennis.