Sue Clark, whose success as Tucson High School’s girls tennis coach led to countless accolades and a feature in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd”, died this morning. She was 80.
Clark had been in declining health for the last few years. The legendary coach was moved to hospice care two months ago, said Paula Aboud, a former state senator and one of Clark’s former Badgers players.
Clark took her place among Tucson High School legends between 1958-72, posting 213 consecutive wins as head coach of the girls tennis team. The Badgers didn't lose a match for 14 seasons, a streak that earned Clark a spot in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" on May 15, 1972.
Clark, a Texas native, attended Phoenix College and Sul Ross State College before earning a master's degree in secondary education from the UA.
She was teaching at Tucson High School in 1958 when principal Andy Tolson urged her to take over the girls tennis program on a temporary basis. Though Clark had no coaching experience, she proved an instant success.
"My first year, we took state by one point," she told the Star in 2011. "After that, they stopped looking. And I was there for 13 more years."
The Badgers were unmatched for 14 seasons, winning every divisional championship, 11 state crowns and one state co-championship. Clark was named the Arizona Daily Star's coach of the year in 1967, becoming the first woman to win the award. She left Tucson High after the 1972 season, then spent one season coaching at Sabino High School.
She retired as a teacher in 1989 after spending more than three decades at Tucson, Sabino and Safford K-8 Magnet School.
A memorial celebration will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Golden Corral, 4380 E. 22nd St.
Read more in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star.