Susan Hill Whitson

“One of the most important lessons I learned from tennis is perseverance. When things are going badly during a tennis match, you have to hang in there even when the going gets tough. Never, ever give up! It's an important lesson that I continue to use throughout everyday life situations and demonstrating perseverance on the tennis court was a great way of learning it.” ~~Susan Hill Whitson, 2018

Susan Hill Whitson

Class of 2010

Red Bank High School Hall of Fame, 2000

Clemson University Athletic Hall of Fame, 1986

Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame, 2005

Clemson University Ring of Honor, 2011

 Susan Hill Whitson began playing tennis at age 13 at Manker Patten Tennis Club in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She played her first out-of-town tournament in the 14's age division and went on to play five 5 Southern Closed Championships, winning four and losing in the finals of one. She won Southern Closed 14's Champions in singles and doubles (1973), won Southern Closed 16's Championships in singles (1975), won Southern Closed 18's Championship in singles (1976 and 1977). In tournaments, she Southern 16s in singles and doubles (1975) and 18's in singles (1976). Whitson ranked no. 1 in Southern section singles in 16's (1975) and 18's (1976) and ranked #1 in Tennessee in singles and doubles in 16's (1974, 1975) and 18's (1976, 1977). Whitson won the Tennessee State High School Championship in singles playing for Red Bank High School in 1975, 1976, 1977 and doubles 1975 and 1976. To close out her high school career, Whitson finished third in National 18's Indoor Championships (1977). Whitson’s success in high school tennis carried her to Clemson University in South Carolina on a tennis scholarship. There she played the no. 1 singles position at every match all four years (1977-1981) and won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships at the no. 1 position for 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1980. In addition, she won in doubles at the no. 1 position in 1978. Whitson still holds the record for highest career winning percentage in singles in Clemson history at .863. In women's play, Whitson won the Southern Closed Championships in singles and doubles (1978), the Southern Open Championships in singles (1983) and was ranked #1 in Southern section Women's (1978 and 1983) and #1 in Women's Collegiate Southern Section (1978). Whitson ranked #1 in Tennessee in Women's singles (1978) and ranked #1 in Georgia in Women's singles (1984). In the Women's division, Whitson won multiple times the Chattanooga City Open Championships, the Tennessee Valley Championships, the Atlanta Open Championships, the Tennessee State Open Championships, and the Georgia State Hard Court Championships. Whitson earned several tennis awards including the Southern section Junior female Player of the Year award for 1976. She was the MVP on the Clemson University tennis team for four years (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981) and was chosen as Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference 4 years (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980). She was an All American at Clemson for three years (1978, 1979, and 1981). The South Carolina State newspaper named her as one (#16) of the top 20 Clemson athletes of the 20th century and in 2000, Whitson was the first female athlete inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame. Whitson taught tennis at the Atlanta Athletic Club before taking time off to raise a family. During this time, she helped coach both her daughter and son's high school tennis teams. If you ask Whitson what tennis have given her she will tell you her family. She met her husband John at Clemson University and they have five children. It was also through tennis the she formed a special and lasting bond with her father, Frank Hill, who she calls her “most important tennis mentor.” Whitson credits her father with “teaching her how to play the game of tennis, not just the strokes but more importantly, the mental aspect and discipline of the game. I never had any formal tennis lessons from a pro, but I believe I learned more from him than I could possibly have learned from a professional.”