2023 Hall of Fame Inductees
2023 MTA Hall of Fame
Wanda McPhail & Robert Dean
The Tennis Foundation of Mississippi is pleased to announce that Wanda McPhail of Meridian and Robert Dean of Greenville are the 2023 inductees into the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame. The inductees into the Tennis Hall of Fame have long been associated with tennis in the state and through their play, support, and generosity have left an unmistakable imprint on Mississippi tennis.
McPhail made her name in the sport primarily at Meridian Community College, where she served as the head men’s and women’s coach from 2000-2018. Prior to her time at MCC, McPhail started the West Lauderdale High School team and coached there before taking over at MCC. While at Meridian Community College, McPhail put together a legendary career that included a total record of 543-124, 15 Region 23 JUCO championships, and 9 MACJC championships. McPhail was named the Junior College Region 23 Coach of the Year 19 times, and the MACC Coach of the Year 16 times. In addition to the team accolades, McPhail was named the USTA Mississippi Coach of the Year in 2014, the Wilson Coach of the year (Presented by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association) four times, and inducted into the Meridian Community College Hall of Fame, the East Central Junior College Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Junior College Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Junior College Women’s Coaches’ Tennis Hall of Fame. Meridian Community College’s tennis complex was named the Wanda B McPhail Tennis Courts in 2014 and will carry the same name when the school opens its new facility in 2024.
McPhail served the game off the court as well, as she impacted numerous people she came across during her career. McPhail served for 10 years on the ITA Board as the men’s junior college delegate, and was the National Junior College Women’s Coaches’ Association President from 2006-2015, which included being the Ranking Chair for men’s tennis and the National Awards regional chair. McPhail was PTR certified and also served on USTA Committees during her career.
“I feel like the competitive level of JUCO tennis created a home for Mississippi players to continue their tennis careers,” said McPhail. “It allowed them to play college tennis near their home, and my competitive spirit led me to work many long days to create the success that would bring MCC national attention as well as attention for Mississippi tennis in general.”
After retirement in 2018, McPhail has stayed near the game, helping out at tennis facilities in the Meridian area, as well as lending a helping hand to the new regime at Meridian Community College.
Robert Dean, a native of Leland, is one of the best players to ever come out of the Mississippi Delta. After a great junior career, Dean went on to play collegiately at Mississippi State University from 1961-1965. The Bulldogs rose to as high as #7 in the country during Dean’s stint at the school, and won the SEC Championship as a team in 1965. Individually, Dean won the SEC at the #5 position, and played as high as the #3 position while in Starkville.
Dean went on to have a stellar adult career as a player as well, as he finished in the top 10 in the South several years, and was ranked the #1 doubles player in the state with Ken Toler in 1967 and with Bruce Bollman in 1977. He won several prestigious adult tournaments in the 60’s and 70’s including the Birmingham Open, the Greenville Open, and the State Closed Singles Championship.
Dean also impacted players off the court, as he was a teaching pro at River Hills from 1966-1968, where several of his students also went on to become Mississippi Tennis Hall of Famers. Dean served as a volunteer in the sport in addition to coaching, as he was on the Cypress Hills Tennis Committee from 1977-1978.
“There were 20-25 adult men that played regularly when I was a teenager in Leland, and they influenced me to get started playing the game,” Dean said.
“I put my quarter in the can just like everyone else, and they allowed me to start playing with them at a young age just like everybody else,” said Dean.
“From there, I continued to play, grew a love for the game, and tennis has been very rewarding for me. The sport introduced me to a lot of important people in my life.”
McPhail and Dean will be inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame with a formal banquet on January 27, 2024 at River Hills Club. Stay tuned to www.mstennis.com for details on tickets being sold to the event, or call 601-981-4421 for more information