Our first profile is women's tennis All-American Billie Ann Abney. The women's tennis program at UTC is arguably the most storied of all the Mocs' teams and Billie Abney helped to start it all. The Lady Mocs netters have won six national titles in school history and Abney was the team captain of the first championship squad.
Abney attended Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida, as a scholarship tennis student-athlete out of LaFayette High School. She was among the second group of female scholarship student-athletes at Marymount in 1973. However, when she heard that Alice Tym would be coaching at UTC, she decided to return to Chattanooga.
"Candy (Reynolds) and I both played at Manker Patten (Tennis Club) and when we heard Alice was going to be coaching, we both decided to come back to UTC," stated Abney. Their return would eventually spark a dominant, three-year championship run for the Mocs.
"It was just an incredible period of time," continued Abney. "Working with Alice was incredible. She was one of the brightest coaches and individuals that I have ever worked with. She was able to draw incredible things out of us. She could find our weaknesses and make us stronger and we didn't even know what she was doing. The whole thing really hinged around Manker Patten and Alice Tym."
Abney went on to be a key member of the women's tennis program from 1974-77. She was a No. 1 ranked doubles player in the South in her junior and senior years, teaming with both Reynolds and Elisabeth Sharp. The Mocs competed in the Small College Division of the AIAW, but constantly took on, and defeated, teams from Division I.
"At the end of my junior year, we went down to a tournament at LSU and beat the No. 3 ranked Division I team and I remember thinking, 'I can't believe we just did that," recalled Abney. "We beat Alabama and some of the other bigger schools. My senior year we went to the University of North Carolina for the Regionals. There we beat both North Carolina and Duke."
As a senior in 1977, she led UTC to the AIAW Small College National Championship. With the score tied at 4-4 in the championship match against UC-Santa Barbara, Abney and Sharpe teamed up in the deciding doubles contest. They took down the Lady Gauchos in the clinching bout for what would be the first of three-straight national titles at the AIAW level for Chattanooga.
Abney's 1977 squad laid the groundwork for the future of the Lady Mocs tennis program. UTC went on to win the NCAA Division II National Championship in 1983, 1984 and 1985. The success of Lady Mocs tennis can easily be traced back to the first team that was captained by Abney.
A scholarship student-athlete at Chattanooga, Abney was a member of Pi Beta Phi and on the Homecoming Court. She was also a point guard on women's basketball team for a part of one season under head coach Grace Keith.
Abney graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Health & Physical Education and went on to earn a second Bachelor's degree in Biology at Logan College in St. Louis, Mo. She also earned a Doctor of Chiropractic from Logan and is pursuing a Doctorate of Education through Walden University.
Dr. Abney is currently a teacher and member of the National Education Association, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Science Teachers Association and an award winner of the Teacher of Promise for the State of Georgia. She is also a member of the Georgia Chiropractic Association and a past board member of the G.C.A.
"It's an honor," stated Abney when asked about being inducted into the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame. As you can see, it is an honor that is very well deserved.
Abney joins Reynolds (1993) Sharpe (1992), Phyllis Blackwell (1992), who were all teammates on the '77 championship squad, in the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame. Tym was inducted in the ITA Women's Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008 and honored with the Joe Morrison Award at last year's UTC Athletics Hall of Fame banquet. Abney is the 13th member of the women's tennis program to be inducted into the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame.
The UTC Athletics Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony is set for Friday, Feb. 12, at the Chattanooga Country Club. The reception begins at 6:00 p.m. (E.S.T.) with the dinner and program starting at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to all Mocs fans with a cost of $25 per person. Contact the Office of Alumni Affairs at (423) 425-4785 for more information or to order tickets.