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Bill Wright

Bill Wright coached the Arizona men’s tennis team from 1986-2005.

About 10 years ago, I spent a few summer days in Vail, Colorado, and while on a jog near the Eagle River noticed a sign at a recreation center that said “Bill Wright Tennis Center.”

I stopped and walked to the tennis office and asked if it was the same Bill Wright who coached Arizona’s men’s tennis team from 1986-2005.

Absolutely. Wright spent 27 summers operating Vail’s tennis programs for young and old. His ego was such that you’d never know he played in five U.S. Opens, or tell friends that the city of Vail had honored his long career.

A few minutes later, Wright walked by on the way to a tennis lesson. Small world. He stopped and talked and modestly told me he was about to be inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.

Wright had one of the most difficult jobs in the UA athletic department, coaching the Wildcats against perennial NCAA powers Stanford, UCLA and USC, but he held his own and was about the nicest guy you could ever meet.

Sadly, he died last week, at 81. He leaves a powerful legacy of coaching with class and dignity.

This article originally ran on tucson.com.

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