Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach and tennis coach and Manker Patten Tennis Club manager Tommy Bartlett died Wednesday morning at the age of 88. He had been in ill health for several years, and the passing at his home was described as peaceful.
Bartlett was a member of 11 halls of fame, including the Tennessee Sports, the Southern Tennis and the Intercollegiate Tennis Assocation National halls, and he had an overall 1,083-251 record in 33 years of college basketball and tennis coaching. He won more than 60 state singles and doubles state championships, 50 Southern titles and 31 national titles, and he was a player of the year 17 times, a pro of the year three times and a coach of the year 18 times.
Born in Homersville, Ga., on June 6, 1928, he moved with his widowed mother to Knoxville as an infant and won Knoxville city championships four years in a row after taking up tennis in his youth. He also won city championships in swimming and table tennis.
After graduation from Knoxville High School and 1946-48 service in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bartlett enrolled at the University of Tennessee and was a captain and All-SEC player for the basketball Volunteers and a star also in tennis — never losing a collegiate match — and swimming.
He compiled a 205-29 coaching record at Dandridge and Lenoir City high schools in the Knoxville area and began his college coaching career at nearby Carson-Newman, then came to the University of Chattanooga as head basketball and tennis coach. He returned to Tennessee to assist Ray Mears and then moved to Florida as head basketball coach and had a career .500 record against Kentucky's Adolph Rupp.
Bartlett was 468-151 in basketball at UC and Florida.
He came back to Chattanooga in 1979 as the UTC men's and women's tennis coach and the manager and head pro at Manker Patten. He and his wife, Essie, retired from the club on Dec. 1, 1996.
She survives him along with their three sons and three grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements haven't been set, but they will be handled by Chattanooga Funeral Home North on Highway 158, and he will be buried at the National Cemetery.