Clinton, South Carolina is a tennis town with a long history of producing top level players in the game of tennis.
This year the US Tennis Association-South Carolina recognized the Waldron family from Clinton as the South Carolina Tennis Family of the Year.
Chuck Waldron, better known as “coach,” started playing tennis at the age of 6 and teaching others to play the game at the age of 15 alongside George Amaya. Coach was a four-time state champion with his tennis team at Clinton High School and then with a scholarship, he went to PC where his team was in the top four in the country each year. After college he played professional for three years and played Pro-Am tournaments until the age of fifty.
Off the tennis court Coach has made significant contributions to the game of tennis. Here’s just a few of the organizations he has supported over the years:
- Founding member of the South Carolina Professional Tennis Association and Area Director
- Founder and Director of the Palmetto Jr Novice Tennis Circuit
- Founder and Director of the Clinton Jr. Tennis Program – now in its 49th year
- Founder and Director of the Maynard Cup
- Founder and board member of the Rufus Sadler Tennis Foundation
On the courts as a coach, Chuck Waldron, has created a program that cranks out winners. The kids coming out of his programs are winners on and off the court. More than 100 players from his program have received college scholarships to play tennis and more than 250 players have received sportsmanship awards.
For Coach Waldron technique is important but so is character. There is so much more than “tennis” being learned on the courts for the youth in his program.
“My love for the game is matched by my love for the kids,” said Coach Waldron. “For many, the game of tennis gives them an opportunity to shine and creates a level of self-esteem that may not have been there before.”
The Waldron family is all that and more. In addition to Chuck Waldron’s accomplishments and support of others in the game of tennis, the Waldron children have also excelled on the court.
Here are some of the highlights.
Virginia Waldron (now Virginia Waldron Fleming):
Virginia Waldron started playing tennis at the age of 6 and continued through four years of college tennis at Presbyterian College. She won several sportsmanship awards including the USTA-South Carolina Mark Hogdin Jr. Sportsmanship Award and is a two-time doubles champion (Palmetto Championship Tournament).
During high school and college Virginia coached in the Clinton Jr. Tennis program. After college she moved to New York and was a tennis instructor for Sportstime, Inc. and became Director of Tennis at Bethpage Tennis Facility. She also instructed players at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
After leaving New York Virginia taught tennis at the Tennis Club on the University of Texas Campus where many of her junior players were nationally ranked.
In 2019, Virginia married Parker Fleming, Special Teams Coordinator for Ohio State University. They live in Columbus, Ohio where Virginia continues to coach junior players.
Virginia comes home frequently and when she does, you can find her coming by the tennis courts and even helping out with camps.
Gracie Waldron grew up on the courts and started playing tournaments at the age of six. She played junior tournaments until the age of eighteen including the Belton- Palmetto Championship from age of nine until eighteen. Gracie was All-state in high school twice and played on several Upper State Championship teams. Gracie has been certified by the USPTR (US Professional Tennis Registry) since the age of seventeen.
Like her sister, Gracie has also won several sportsmanship awards in junior tournaments. She was also the recipient of the USTA-South Carolina Mark Hosdin Jr. Sportsmanship Award.
Gracie played tennis in college, her first two years at Charleston Southern and her last two years at Coker University. During her senior year, she was captain of the team and number 3 singles. During her senior year she accepted the position as Director of Tennis at the Hartsville Country Club and she in that role today.
Prior to going to college Gracie coached for many years in the Clinton Jr. Tennis Program and still does when she is in town.
The youngest in this tennis family is Ike Waldron. It should come as no surprise that he would also excel at tennis. Ike started playing tennis at the age of four and his first tournament was the Festival of Flowers Tournament in Greenwood. Ike played the Belton tournament from the age of four to eighteen.
At the young age of twelve, Ike won the Matthew Strange Sportsmanship Award of the Palmetto Tour. He would go on to win several other sportsmanship awards in junior tournaments.
Ike was an All-State player during all four years of high school. He was the top player in 3-AAA high school tennis his sophomore year and led the Clinton High School tennis team to four Upper State Titles. He was also the region most valuable player (MVP) for two of these years.
Ike was certified by USPTR at the age of sixteen and has been a coach in the Clinton Jr. Tennis Program since the age of sixteen.
In 2021 Ike graduated from Clinton High School and is now attending Clemson University as an engineering major.
No story about the Waldron family would be complete without mention of Mary Waldron, also known as “tennis mom extraordinaire.” While you won’t find her on the courts playing (although she has played over the years) she could be found at every match or tournament the kids have played in. She was there supporting them, their teammates, and the coaches. Mary has also been involved in and supported the Clinton Jr. Tennis Program and other special programs over the years.
That long history of tennis in Clinton, SC is alive and will continue to be, thanks to the efforts of the Waldron family. They have shared their love for the game of tennis with hundreds of youth over the years.
The Waldron family is very deserving of this award. Congrats to them and thank you for keeping the tennis legacy alive in Clinton.
Click on the images below to view the Waldron tennis family in action.