Bob Helton

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Bob Helton

Class of 2001


Five USTA National Championships

University of Tennessee 1960-1962

Founded Bristol Racquet Club 1975




Helton, a graduate of Tennessee High School in 1955, was a star basketball player and attended the University of Tennessee on athletic scholarship. However, his college path brought him back to King College as a sophomore, where he took up tennis as an afterthought because the school's basketball coach wanted his team to stay in shape during the autumn and spring months.

Helton graduated from King College in 1960 having lost just two singles matches in his final two years of intercollegiate competition. Helton then graduated from East Tennessee State in 1962 with a masters degree and began his career as a tennis pro at Ridgefield Country Club in Kingsport. He later founded Bristol Racquet Club in 1975.

Helton has won a combined nine international titles in either singles or doubles play, multiple USTA National Championship "gold balls", 23 Southern Titles, and over 350 state and local titles. 

As a teaching pro in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia he is credited with developing many state, sectional, and nationally ranked players. Two of his stars students Margie Stanley and Jim Thompson to name a couple.

In August 2016 the Bob Helton building of the Ida S. Jones Community Center was dedicated. It honored the man who taught thousands of children and adults over six decades as a teaching professional, and has five national “gold ball” championships to his credit.