|An old photo captures the 1961 NAIA National Championship men's tennis team who will be inducted into the UTPA Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Pictured left to right are Don Russell, Jerry Wortelboer, Ken Lang, Coach Harry Meng, John Sharpe, and Jim Watson. Not pictured is Harold Natho.|
The 1961 NAIA National Championship men’s tennis team highlights the Hall of Fame class of 2011. This year is the 50th anniversary of the team that won the first of five straight NAIA National championships. Members of that team include current Hall of Fame members Ken Lang (Class of 2009), John Sharpe (Class of 2008), and Don Russell (Class of 2007), along with Harold Natho, Jim Watson, and Jerry Wortelboer.
UTPA Athletics will also induct three individuals for the 2011 Hall of Fame Class: former UTPA men’s golf coach Tony Guerrero, former UTPA baseball player and All-American Tony Barbosa and former women’s tennis player LuAnn Alexander. In addition, former UTPA men’s basketball player Jim Board will be inducted into the UTPA Hall of Honor.
"This year's inductees are extremely deserving of the honor of joining the UTPA Athletics Hall of Fame," UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King said. "As a championship team or esteemed individuals, they each represent the proud tradition of Bronc Athletics, and on behalf of our current student-athletes, coaches, and staff, it is a privilege to recognize them for their accomplishments."
The 1961 men’s tennis teams were trailblazers for the UTPA tennis program. John Sharpe won the NAIA national singles title as part of the team’s championship victory. In addition, Sharpe paired with Don Russell to win the NAIA national title in doubles. The 1961 team was the first team to claim a national team title for “Pan American College” and was one year removed from being the national runner-up in 1960. The team went 12-4-1 overall that season.
Guerrero spent 23 years as the golf coach and professor at Pan American College, Pan American University and the University of Texas-Pan American. The Mission native, who played as a teammate of Tom Landry at Mission High School in 1941, retired from coaching in 1992 to become an assistant athletic director at UTPA. Guerrero retired in 1997 and is a member of the All-American Intercollegiate Golf Coaches Hall of Fame and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
Barbosa, a native of Brownsville, Texas was one of the top pitchers in Bronc baseball history. The southpaw played for Pan American University from 1967 to 1970 and amassed 351 strikeouts in 291 collegiate innings. The hard-throwing lefty is third in Bronc history with a 1.24 ERA and was the first Bronc pitcher to beat the University of Texas Longhorns. Barbosa played professionally in the California Angels organization and spent five seasons played professionally in the Mexican League.
Alexander played for Pan American College from 1951-1955 after graduating from Edinburg High School in the spring of 1951. Alexander was part of the women’s tennis team that won the 1952-53 Big State Conference championship. The former LuAnn Allen joined the Edinburg Consolidated School District as a teacher and tennis coach and began a career than lasted 42 years at the junior high and varsity level.
Board played two seasons for the Broncs beginning with the 1963-64 season. He joined the Broncs as a transfer from St. Edward's University in Austin. Board was on the Bronc squad that finished as the NAIA National-runner up, falling in the title game to Rockhurst 66-56. The Broncs finished that season with a record of 28-6. Board was named NAIA Honorable Mention All-American averaging 9.0 points per game with a 47.2% shooting percentage. As a senior, Board averaged 10.7 points per contest on a Bronc team that finished 19-7.
The Hall of Fame ceremony and luncheon will highlight a busy weekend for UTPA Athletics. On Saturday, April 16 men’s tennis will host a match with in-state rival UT-San Antonio that begins at 10 a.m.
Also, on Saturday, April 16 the Broncs baseball team will host the NJIT Highlanders for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. In addition, the Broncs will also honor the 1971 Pan American University baseball team that advanced to the College World Series in a 40th anniversary recognition.
"I hope fans and supporters of UTPA Athletics will make plans to attend the luncheon and celebrate this year's induction class," King added. "Along with our baseball and tennis teams hosting competitions, it is going to be a great weekend for Bronc Athletics."
For more information, go to UTPABroncs.com. Fans can also call (956) 665-2211 for tickets or other information.