Remembering Coach Fred Kniffen

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Remembering Coach Fred Kniffen

Fred Kniffen was an American tennis icon who won numerous national championships and brought the game he loved to thousands of tennis players around the globe. Coach Kniffen, a standout netter at the high school and collegiate level, led both Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler to national championships as head coach. He coached dozens of All Americans and built TJC and UT Tyler into world-renowned programs. He is also in numerous Halls of Fame, including the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame, the Texas Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame.

Kniffen led the Patriots to two NAIA National Championships in 1989 and 1994 while coaching at UT Tyler from 1985 to 1994. His teams also finished third in the country in 1987 and were national runners-up in 1988. Under Kniffen’s leadership, the Patriots tennis teams won the NAIA District 4 Championship every year. In 1987, Kniffen was named the Wilson National Coach of the Year. "Coach Kniffen was the pioneer of tennis at UT Tyler and the city of Tyler," Dr. Howard Patterson, UT Tyler Director of Athletics, said. "He contributed so much to making Tyler a tennis city. As a college coach, Coach Kniffen was a great recruiter, master coach, and was the coach of UT Tyler’s first national championship team. He was a friend to so many and I was blessed to know him and his family and will miss him greatly."

Join us in honoring Coach Kniffen by making a gift to the UT Tyler Men’s and Women’s Tennis programs. Thank you for your support of UT Tyler Athletics. If you have any questions please contact us at or 903.566.7047. 

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