Morris Elected To NC Tennis Hall Of Fame
Aug. 31, 2009
North Carolina Tennis Foundation Release (Aug. 31, 2009)
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The North Carolina Tennis Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of two new Hall of Fame members for the class of 2010. Tom Morris, of Blount's Creek, and Tom Willson, of Cashiers, will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame January 30th, 2010 with a commemoration event held at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst, NC. The North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame is housed in Greensboro, NC, which serves as a central location for the whole state to enjoy.
Tom Morris came to North Carolina by way of Columbia, South Carolina. He built a solid high school tennis career, during which he suffered just one loss. As an undergraduate at Atlantic Christian College (now known as Barton College), Morris played in the No. 1 spot all four years, earned All-America recognition twice and helped his team win the 1979 NAIA National Championship. He reached the semifinals in the National Singles Championship his sophomore year and ranked as high as #5 nationally in doubles. His 105 career singles victories still rank as the school record. Morris was named Kiwanis Male Athlete-of-the-Year at Atlantic Christian three-straight years, making him the only athlete to earn that honor more than twice.
Morris would return to his alma mater years later as its Head Coach from 1990-98, molding eight All-America selections and eight conference players-of-the-year. Currently, Morris is entering his 12th season as head coach at East Carolina. He is the university's all-time winningest tennis coach and has compiled a record of 232-168 at the institution, complementing his 407-270 career collegiate mark. Over his collegiate coaching career, he has been named the Carolinas Conference Coach-of-the-Year four times, as well as awarded the NAIA District 26 Coach-of-the-Year, the Conference USA Sportsmanship Award and NCAA Men's East Regional Coach-of-the-Year. He and wife, Carol, have three children, Chris, Jack and Al.
Tom Willson, though also not a North Carolina native, has lived in the Tar Heel State over half of his life. Formerly he lived in Michigan, where he was a State 4-A High School Doubles Champion and member of the Kalamazoo College tennis team. After moving to North Carolina, Willson began building an accomplished playing record in age division tournament play. In 1979, he held the #1 year-end ranking in the Men's 45s Doubles. He would continue to stay in the upper-echelon of his age divisions as he continued to play into his 70s. With highly competitive play comes trophy case hardware. Over his adult tennis career he has compiled 6 State Closed Singles titles, 10 State Closed Doubles titles, 3 Southern Sectional Singles titles, and 5 Southern Sectional Doubles titles.
Willson also enjoyed stepping on court with one of his sons, Matthew, and the two have competed in several National Father-Son tournaments over the past 25 years. Together they have collected a National Championship Gold Ball in 2006 (1st place finish), six Silver Balls (2nd place finish), and one Bronze Ball (3rd place finish). Off the court, Willson helped to co-found the Brevard Racquet Club as well as promoted tennis to all ages in western North Carolina. Tom resides in Cashiers, NC, with wife Ann.