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In May of 2021, the Francis Baxter “Father of Oklahoma Tennis” statue was dedicated at the new Edmond Center Court. He was honored for his lifetime of achievements in Oklahoma tennis. Baxter was the life and soul – the glue - for all facets of Oklahoma tennis for over 60 years.  

The full-size bronze statue was the inspiration and project of long time Baxter friend and colleague, Bill Rompf, who was instrumental in raising the initial funds (mainly from former Baxter players from CSU); selecting and supervising the art work (sculpture); partnering with the City of Edmond on approvals and funding; and hosting the dedication ceremony at Center Court.  Rompf also established the Francis and Jean Baxter Junior Scholarship, which provides funding for worthy junior players to begin playing tennis competitively.


Francis Baxter was born in 1934 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma and attended high school in Dover, Oklahoma, where he played basketball and baseball.  His class had only 13 students.   His father was a wheat farmer.  He lettered in track and tennis at Central State University, where he graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 1956.  He began teaching math and coaching tennis at John Marshall High School in 1956 and in 1960 moved to Harding High School where his boys’ tennis teams won three Oklahoma state titles.  In 1970, Francis began his career at Central State University.  He received his Master’s Degree in Teaching from CSU and began working towards a PhD from OSU. Baxter was the head coach of the Central State/University of Central Oklahoma Men’s tennis teams for 36 years and the Women’s tennis teams for 26 years before retiring in 2006.  He led the Men’s and Women’s teams to six NAIA District 9 championships in the 1980s while taking the Men to three NAIA national tournaments and the Women to one.  He also guided his teams to eight combined NCAA Division II national tournament appearances, six for the Men and two for the Women. In 1988 he was named Lone Star Conference Women’s Coach of the Year and Lone Star Conference Men’s Coach of the Year in 2004. 

He also claimed Division II Men’s Coach of the Year accolades in 1996. Coach Baxter had 14 players earn NAIA or Division II All-American honors a combined 25 times, including Charl Bornman, the school’s first-ever Division II National Champion.  He was the driving force behind UCO hosting the NCAA Division II National Tournament in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996, in addition to the ITA/Rolex National Small College championships in 1993 and 1994. Francis was the Executive Secretary of the Oklahoma District Tennis Association for 32 years and was the Missouri Valley President from 1973-1974. As a player, Baxter served as captain of a United States International team from 1993-2001, leading the 60-and-over men to the Von Cramm Cup title seven consecutive years from 1993-1999 and taking the 50-and-over men to the Fred Perry Cup Crown in 2000 and 2001.  In 1999 he was the first Chair of the newly established Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame and is one of five original inductees.  Baxter was inducted into the University of Central Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Missouri Valley Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009. Because of his success at Harding High School, Coach Baxter was inducted into the Oklahoma High School Tennis Hall of Fame in 2016.   In 2017, Baxter was inducted into the prestigious Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in the same class as James Blake and Nick Bollettieri.

Francis and his wife Jean lived in Edmond, Oklahoma.  In 1980 they became charter members of Faith Bible Church where he was an elder for 9 years and Junior High Sunday School teacher for 15 years.

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