WILMER ALLISON

December 8, 1904 – April 20, 1977

Wilmer AllisonIn 1925 Wilmer Allison received a baseball contract from the Texas League team, Beaumont Exporters.  Having been a better than average infielder for the Fort Worth Central High School Panthers, Allison ran home to give his family the good news.  Yet his psychiatrist father, Dr. Wilmer Allison, insisted that his son would not become a professional athlete.  Instead, he suggested the young, six foot, slender, dimple-chinned Wilmer take up a life-long sport. 

Allison had been spending time at the private Meadowmere Club tennis courts on Pershing Avenue while his father saw patients at the Arlington Heights Sanitarium on Lovell Avenue.  In 1922 the young man had watched the state tennis tournament held at Meadowmere; he took up the sport after the tournament.  Club founder T.E.D. Hackney had encouraged Allison to pursue tennis and taught him the basics, but Allison always believed he was better in baseball than in tennis.  He reluctantly turned to tennis.

Allison admitted that he was not much of a player when he started at the University of Texas during the fall of 1925.  Under the tutelage of tennis coach Dr. D.A. Penick, within two years the sophomore had won the National Intercollegiate Championship.  Allison’s game had improved considerably in a very short time because of hard work and physical prowess.  In 1928 he made the U.S. Davis Cup team, tennis’ Dream Team, and through 1937 Allison played 44 Cup matches, third most in Davis Cup history.

Allison and teammate Johnny Van Ryn became one of the most successful doubles teams of the era.  They also won the Wimbledon Doubles Championship in 1929 and 1930, and the U.S. Doubles Championship in 1935.  Allison, playing singles, won the 1928 Canadian Championship and in 1935 the U.S. Singles Championship.

Once his playing days ended, Allison returned to Austin to help coach the Longhorn tennis program.  From 1947-56 he served as an assistant coach; he succeeded Dr. Penick as head coach of the program from 1957-72.   Shortly before his death in 1977, the University of Texas renamed its tennis arena the Penick-Allison courts in his honor.

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