Legendary Gustavus tennis coach Steve Wilkinson dies at 73

Longtime Gustavus Adolphus College tennis coach Steve Wilkinson passed away Wednesday, Jan. 21 at the age of 73, ending a 7-year battle with cancer. Wilkinson retired in 2009 as the winningest coach in the history of men's collegiate tennis, totaling 929 wins over 39 years.

Longtime Gustavus Adolphus College tennis coach Steve Wilkinson passed away Wednesday, Jan. 21 at the age of 73, ending a 7-year battle with cancer.

Lasting legacy

Wilkinson retired in 2009 as the winningest coach in the history of men's collegiate tennis, totaling 929 wins over 39 years. His Gustavus teams won two NCAA Division III titles (1980 and 1982) as well as 35 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) titles.

Wilkinson and his wife, Barbara, founded Tennis and Life Camps in 1977, dedicating their lives to improving tennis performance of youth and adults and teaching life skills that can be used on and off the court. The tennis camp was gifted to the college in 2010, ensuring his legacy of excellence and guidance continues for generations.

Wilkinson also played a key role in the fundraising and construction of the Gustavus Adolphus College tennis facilities, which are considered to be among the finest in the nation.

Memorial service

Steve Wilkinson is survived by his wife, Barbara, two daughters, Stephanie and Deborah, sons-in-law Scott and Jon, four grandchildren, Caroline, Eloise, Stephen, and Audrey, and many relatives and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31 in Christ Chapel on the Gustavus Adolphus campus. Visitation will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30 at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter.


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