James Wadley was born and raised is McAlester, Oklahoma. Growing up, he had a good hitting partner, David Bryant, and together they were two-time Oklahoma State High School Doubles Champions at McAlester High School. James went to Southeastern State University in Durant, Oklahoma on a tennis scholarship and was a two-time NAIA All-American playing for Coach Clarence Dyer. He led Southeastern to four straight conference titles and four consecutive appearances in the NAIA National Tournament.

After graduating from college, James became the coach of the boy’s high school team at Duncan High School.  In 1973, he was appointed the Men’s Tennis Coach at Oklahoma State University.  He is into his 32nd season and has the longest active coaching tenure at OSU.

Wadley was named the ITA Regional Coach of the Year is 2003 after the Cowboys jumped from 73rd to 19th in the National Rankings.  He was named Regional Coach of the Year eight other times and was Big 8 Coach of the year 13 times.  His team has made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and captured 12 Big 8 titles, including 5 straight from 1983-84, going 31-0 in conference play during that time.  The 10-year period from 1978-87 is referred to as the "Decade of Dominance" as the Cowboys went 65-2 in conference matches during this time.

Wadley has a career record of 536-251 and has coached 94 individual conference champions:  57 Singles and 37 Doubles titles.  Unquestionably his best player has been Pavel Kudmac who won 3 National Intercollegiate titles.

James and his wife, Paula, have three children: Stacy, Kristi, and Brent.