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Hall of Fame Nod for Legendary Coach
February 05, 2014

 NORMAN, Okla. -- Former OU men’s tennis coach Jerry Keen will be posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame Saturday.

Keen will be honored by the U.S. Tennis Association Oklahoma District at its 15th Annual Awards Presentation and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Jim Thorpe Association and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

Keen coached 12 Big Eight Conference team champions and 83 individual champions as the Sooners’ head coach from 1964 to 1987. His teams set a Big Eight mark for consecutive wins with 63 from 1965 through 1975.

Under Keen, Oklahoma won the Big Eight championship nine years straight. Former player and head coach Paul Lockwood was one of Keen’s many No. 1 singles champions.

“For 23 years, Coach Keen had an honest and true friendship with his players,” Lockwood said. “He achieved great things here.”

Leon Cross, OU’s Associate Athletics Director at the time of Keen’s hiring, described the tennis coach as wholly dedicated to the University of Oklahoma.

“He made many friends and touched the lives of a lot of people,” Cross said. “As a coach, I considered him one who demanded so much, but still had a unique relationship with his players. He was a kind and caring person.”

Keen passed away during his 23rd year as head coach of the Sooners after accumulating a career coaching record of 401-221-2, including a 138-25 mark in Big Eight Conference play.

“He loved to win, but he cared for the individual more than winning,” former Sooner and Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame member Vance McSpadden said in an interview after Keen’s death. “What sticks out in my mind is on trips he took us to all the best restaurants and hotels. I don’t know why or how. Probably, if the truth was known, he used some of his own money.”

When Keen joined the Sooner coaching ranks, he continued a family line. His father, Paul, served as the OU wrestling coach from 1928 to 1939, and was named to the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame.

A native of Norman, Keen was born July 31, 1921. He graduated from Norman High School in 1940 where he lettered in football, wrestling and tennis. He earned a B.S. degree in business management from OU in 1947.

He had served as director of the OU Alumni Development Fund and also had been a special assistant to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics before he was named men's tennis coach on July 1, 1964.

Keen joins Jennifer Hall O’Dell, Robert P. “Bob” McKenna, Tim Ritchie and Dr. Carlton E. Smith, who earned his medical degree from OU, as the Class of 2013 inductees.

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