Kelly Pace Wilson

Kelly Pace Wilson

  • Year Inducted : 2015
  • Sport : tennis

About Inductee


Huntsville and superb tennis players have long been synonymous, beginning in the early years of the 20th century when famed educator Cecil Fain came to town and introduced the sport to the school children of the city and county. The daughter of Ernest and Joann Pace, Kelly Pace was born and raised in Huntsville, developed into one of the best tennis players in the history of the city school system, later honed her athletic skills at the University of Texas in Austin, then went on to a notable career as a tennis professional on the national and international stage. Over the past 16 years, her previous jobs as a head pro/tennis director include stops at Carmel Valley Racquet Club in California, Hampton Cove Racquet Club in Huntsville, and Rio Del Oro Racquet Club in Sacramento, California. She is currently coaching elite junior players at the Gold River Racquet Club near Cameron Park, California. She and her husband, Bill Wilson, and their son, Drake, live in Cameron Park, about 30 miles east of Sacramento in the picturesque foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. A 1991 graduate of Huntsville High, Kelly was ranked No. 1 in Alabama in every age group throughout her high school career. She won the individual state championship in tennis in 1990 and led her team to a 6A championship, and also a state championship in doubles. She won her first professional title, the Southern Open, at the age of 15. She was named Junior Player of the Year by the Southern Tennis Association. She represented Alabama in Junior Wightman Cup competition in every age group, and in 1990 she was ranked No. 15 in the United States in junior tennis. Kelly signed a full athletic scholarship in 1992 with Texas, where she became a five-time All-American and led the Longhorns womens tennis team to two national championships. Shes still the winningest player in school history (152 career victories and a 42-4 record in singles finals), was the teams MVP in 1992, 94 and 95, was named Southwest Conference Player of the Year and the NCAAs National Senior Player of the Year in 95, and was All-SWC in both singles and doubles all four years at Texas. As a collegian, she won two pro tournaments and played in the U.S. Open in 1996, when Steffi Graf won her 21st Grand Slam title by defeating Monica Seles in the womens final. Qualifying for the 96 Open was my biggest personal highlight, Kelly said. After college, she turned pro and eventually reached a career-high world ranking of 196th in singles and 134th in doubles. She ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in the womens 35 age group in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, she was inducted into the University of Texas Athletics Hall of Honor. I grew up with a large number of inspiring people, starting with my parents, said Kelly. They had the strongest work ethic of anybody Ive ever known. Her friend Eddie Jacques, the No. 1 player on the HHS boys team and later an All-American at the University of Georgia, was an inspiration as a practice partner, rival, and motivator. Eddie was an amazing player who pushed me daily to give my best efforts, Kelly said. She also reserved special praise for Mike and Fred Weckwarth, Mark Delton, Jamie Miller, Hugh Thomson, Jon Fraser, and Bill Tym, saying: They were all generous, inspirational, and hard-working coaches who helped me achieve my tennis goals.

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