GERALD "JERRY" HIRST

CLASS OF 2008
 

Jerry Hirst first made his name in Oklahoma tennis winning the State High School Singles title in 1957 and the State High School Doubles title with his brother Wayne in 1958 while attending Harding High School in Oklahoma City.  In 1959, Jerry doubled with Steve Prosser to win the Missouri Valley Doubles Championship in the junior division, and was crowned the Oklahoma State Singles Champion in 1960. 

He played four years of collegiate tennis at East Texas State University, earning undergraduate and master's degrees in education.  Later, his career at East Texas State earned him a place in that school’s hall of fame and then he came south to begin coaching.

In 34 years, Hirst coached basketball, football, and track, but his best he saved for tennis, leading the Harlingen Cardinals to legendary status.  They won 30 District Team Championships and numerous individual titles.  The high point came in 1991 when the Cards reached the state finals and he was named State Coach of the Year.

In July 2000 Jerry was invited to represent the U.S. as a member of the Gordon Cup International Team.  He has been a member of the team ever since when they compete against the Canadian national team.  He also plays national Father/Daughter tournaments with his daughter, Katy, and they have received national rankings in both the regular and senior divisions.  Since his retirement, he has begun playing national Father/Son tournaments with both his sons, John and Steve, and has had national rankings with both.  He now has had a national ranking with all three of his children.  He also begun to play 60 and over national tournaments with his brother, Wayne, and friend, Carey West.

He has been inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas State Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame.  He formed the Rio Grand Valley Tennis Coaches Association as a venue to raise scholarship money for graduating senior tennis players, raising over $100,000.  He has been instrumental working with the South Texas Tennis Coaches Association and is still an active player on the court.