CLASS OF 2000
Gene Land was born December 14, 1934, in Oklahoma City. He hit his first tennis ball at age five and has hit more tennis balls than anyone else. He started competing in tournaments at age 14 and 20 years later he had won over 400 singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles. His junior tennis life found him playing a tournament nearly every week, entering the singles and doubles in the under 18s on Thursday; the Open singles, doubles, and mixed on Friday; finish playing five finals on Sunday; and back on the practice court on Monday. For variety, he would get Thurston and they would enter in the father-son division. In their lifetime, they never lost a father-son tournament match. He has won 41 Missouri Valley Sectional tournaments and has been ranked # 1 in the Open Division ten different years. Gene's best tournament win was over Butch Bucholz at the Tulsa Tennis Club Invitational when Bucholz was ranked # 9 in the U.S.
Gene graduated from Capitol Hill High School and went one semester to Oklahoma State University. He then transferred to Central State University (now UCO) and had an illustrious career finishing as the most decorated player in UCO history. He won three straight Oklahoma Collegiate Conference Singles titles and was NAIA All-American all three years. He won the NAIA National singles title in 1955 and was runner-up the next two years.
He coached at Northwest Classen High School and Muskogee High Schools producing several State team and individual champions.
Gene moved to Kansas City in 1970 and was a pro at several clubs in the area. He has continued to play Missouri Valley and National events. This year he played three tournaments including the National Public Parks Tournament where he won the Men's 55 Singles title.
He has been inducted into the UCO Athletics Hall of Fame and the Missouri Valley Tennis Association Hall of Fame.