After 45 years on the court, Fort Mill boys’ tennis coach Willie Ware is hanging up his racket.
Ware, 73, informed Fort Mill athletic director Dwayne Hartsoe he was retiring from coaching tennis, ending an era of coaching in York County that has not been seen before.
His reasoning behind stepping down is that it’s simply time.
“Being in this time, everything is uncertain,” Ware said. “I just didn’t have the same feeling I did. I will miss the camaraderie with the kids.”
Ware retired from teaching in 2010 and stayed around another decade to keep coaching at Fort Mill. His career is beyond legendary. In his four and a half decades, Ware won five state titles, all in a row from 1994 to 1998, as well as 18 Region titles with his last one coming in 2018. Thus with 45 years as a head tennis coach, Ware’s record should be pretty impressive. The one problem with that is he really doesn’t know his record off the top of his head, and school records haven’t really been kept over the years.
Ware said he is also looking at spending more time with his wife, Pat, who is retired from teaching as well.
Last season, because of the coronavirus, Fort Mill only participated in one tournament in Spartanburg, which they won and three matches before the shutdown cancelled school and all of spring sports.
“It was looking good last year,” he said. “We had a strong team.”
Ware said the first state title against Myrtle Beach was the most memorable of his moments he has had.
“We were always the underdog,” he said. “Myrtle Beach always had been the cream of the crop.”
A 2013 York County Sports Hall of Fame member, there isn’t much missing from Ware’s resume, but he did say he wanted one more thing before he retired – another state title.
“I wish I had one more before giving it up,” he said.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep