CLASS OF 2022
Bill Nelson grew up in Midwest City where he first began playing tennis at age fourteen in the summer tennis program run by Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame coach Dewey Allen. He played for Midwest City High School for three years reaching the state semi-finals in both #2 and #1 doubles. After graduating from MCHS in 1971, Nelson went to Central State University and joined Coach Francis Baxter’s (another Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame member) second team at Central State University in Edmond. Nelson played at either number one or number two for the next four years and graduated with a degree in secondary education in 1975, two years after marrying Martha.
Degree in hand, Bill and Martha moved to Ada where he accepted a position as a secondary social studies teacher and head tennis coach for the boys' and girls' tennis teams at Ada High School. He continued teaching and coaching for the next nine years. During that time, he coached six State Championship teams: three boys and three girls. Five of his other teams finished second at State (three girls and two boys). Twenty-two of his players were recognized as All-Staters by Oklahoma tennis coaches, and Nelson earned six Coach of the Year awards. He was a founding member and the first president of the Oklahoma Tennis Coaches Association and in 1984, was chosen to coach the East Boys’ team in the first ever All-State Match organized by the Oklahoma Tennis Coaches Association. That same year he was selected as the District 5 nominee for National Tennis Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
Martha joined the Ada Schools faculty in 1978. Two daughters were born during those coaching years. During that span, he served as President of the Ada Education Association and was a finalist for Ada Teacher of the Year. He left the classroom in 1984 to become the Ada High assistant principal, and in 1985 began a twenty-one year stint as Ada High principal. A third daughter was born in 1986. All three daughters played tennis for Ada High School, were selected as All-Staters, and went on to play college tennis.
Though he stepped down as Ada High coach in 1984, Nelson remained active in tennis. He taught and continues to teach private lessons, directed the Ada Sooner State Tennis Tournament for thirty years, and has organized and run a local tournament that pairs experienced with less experienced players for the past forty plus years. For twenty-two years, Bill conducted a two-week summer tennis clinic in Holdenville. He is currently serving a second season as Ada Junior High Tennis Coach.
Nelson retired from teaching in 2006 and accepted a job as Camps and Recreation Manager for The Chickasaw Nation in Ada. In that role he oversaw the youth camps and clinics offered by the Chickasaw Nation.
In 2008, Nelson returned to education and accepted the Assistant Superintendent’s position at Byng Schools north of Ada. He served in that role for eight years, continuing to teach individual tennis lessons to players from both Byng and Ada. Byng players taking lessons from him won the schools’ first individual State Championships and led Coach Alan Simpson’s teams to both the first State Championships and second place finishes in school history. He retired again in 2016 to focus on the church, family, and community activities he values as well as teac committee. The Nelson clan was recognized as the USTA/Oklahoma Tennis Family of the Year in both 1995 and USTA/Oklahoma selected Bill for their 2017 Distinguished Service Award.
Away from the tennis courts, Bill has served as an Elder at the Central Church of Christ in Ada since 1996. He has served on Boards of Directors for the East Central Credit Union, Ada Regional United Way, Campfire of Ada, Ada Boys’ and Girls’ Club. and Ada Rotary Club. He has been elected as president of The Ada Education Association, Campfire of Ada, Ada Regional United Way, and Ada Rotary Club.
Bill and his wife Martha have been married since 1973. They have three daughters, Sunny, Summer, and Sky, three sons-in-law, Terry, Luke, and Anthony, and twelve grandchildren ranging from twenty years old to ten months.