WILLIE SUE WADE
CLASS OF 2001
Willie Sue Wade’s first tennis racket was an anniversary gift when she was 35 years old. It started her tennis career. She went on to win the Beginners division the very next year, in the first tournament she entered in Knoxville, Tennessee. The next year she won the Intermediate division and the following year, she was second in the Advance division.
In 1979, Willie Sue and her husband Jim, a University of Tennessee football Hall of Fame player, moved to Tulsa. She began her Oklahoma and Missouri Valley competitive tennis. During the 1980's, Willie Sue won numerous titles: 1st place in 45 Singles at the Oklahoma State Closed for five straight years (1980-1984); 1st place in 45 Singles at the Missouri Valley Sectional Tournament (1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985); 1st place in 45 Singles at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona (1982, 1983); 1st place in 50 Singles at the Southern Regional in Memphis, Tennessee (1984, 1985). She was ranked in #1 in Oklahoma in both 45 Singles and 50 Singles (1984, 1985, 1988) and #1 in 50 Singles (1987, 1989, 1990).
Tennis was a family affair for Willie Sue, Jim, and their two daughters. In Tennessee, the family would spend the day at the tennis courts, playing tennis with each other and their friends. When they moved to Tulsa, Jim and Willie Sue enjoyed the tournaments, usually traveling with a group of tennis friends, watching the matches, and enjoying the tennis camaraderie. Tennis had been so good to Willie Sue and her family that she wanted to give that gift to others. For several years, she could be found on the courts giving lessons at LaFortune Park with Charlie Cunningham (Oklahoma Hall of Fame, 1999) or at her neighborhood courts.
Willie Sue currently lives in Tulsa. Although a knee injury cut short her tennis career, she still enjoys following the sport that enriched her life and that of her family.