WILLIAM CHARLES BUCKLEY
CLASS OF 2005
William Charles "Billy" Buckley was born October 14, 1941, in Oklahoma City. He may have been the greatest player to play in Oklahoma during the 1950s and 1960s. Peter Arend, the first tennis pro at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club, said Billy had “great tennis talent” and that he was the best 11 year old he had ever seen. He was of the caliber of player that put Oklahoma City on the map. It was believed that his talent rivaled that of Don McNeill, 1939 French Open Champion and 1940 U.S. Open Champion.
Those sentiments were echoed by many others such as Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, and Pancho Segura. John McFarlin, of the McFarlin Tennis Center in San Antonio, Texas, said that Buckley was the best junior player he had ever seen at the Texas Sectionals. Billy is pictured above after winning both the Junior and Adult titles at the Texas Sectionals in 1959 becoming the youngest player in history to win the Texas Men's Sectional Championship. He earned a national ranking of # 3 in the 13-year-old division and # 6 in the 15s. At age 14, he was nominated for Oklahoma Sportsman of the Year, finishing second. Others nominated that year included Bud Wilkinson (legendary O.U. football coach) and Mickey Mantle (NY Yankee baseball great).
His exceptional talent can best be highlighted by the players he beat: Rod Laver (13 times # 1 in the World and 11 Grand Slam titles), Arthur Ashe (4 Grand Slam titles and 10-time Davis Cup player), Chuck McKinley (Wimbledon and 3-time U.S. Open Champion), Marty Reissen (# 11 in the World and 5-time Davis Cup player), Charlie Pasarell (NCAA Champion and # 1 in the U.S.), and Frank Froeling (U.S. Open Champion and # 6 in the World). He played Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, and John Newcombe (all of whom achieved a # 1 World ranking).
Buckley was the first player to win three consecutive State High School Championships in 1957, 1958, and 1959 when he played for Harding High School. He was undefeated his last three years of high school.
His tennis career was cut short when he left college to tend to the family business after his father became ill. He has been inducted into the Missouri Valley Tennis Association Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2008.