Arlo Elkins, Palmetto State tennis icon and longtime University of South Carolina women’s tennis head coach, died Saturday, March 31, 2012 at his home in Columbia, S.C. He was 62.
Elkins had served as the head coach for the Gamecocks since fall 1983 and established a nationally prominent program that has reached the NCAA Tournament the past 17 seasons in a row. His teams consistently advanced beyond the first round of NCAAs and made it as far as the quarterfinals. The Gamecocks finished ranked among the nation’s top 25 in 15 of his seasons as head coach. He accumulated well over 400 victories during his career and had a winning record in 22 seasons. His passion to see his student-athletes succeed extended beyond the tennis court as well. Elkins’ teams typically posted GPAs well above 3.0 and as recently as spring 2011, the women’s tennis team led all squads at Carolina with a nearly 3.6 GPA. Multiple times he was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Region Coach of the Year and he was the first coach in any sport at Carolina to be named SEC Coach of the Year. In 2003, he was inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Association Hall of Fame.
Before becoming a coach, Elkins played professionally and competed in the main draws at Wimbledon and the French Open. He also played in more than 50 different countries, and in 1978, Elkins was ranked among the top 200 in the world. Elkins graduated from Northwood Institute with a bachelor of arts in business in 1971. He was a four-year starter for the Midland, Mich. based school at No. 1 singles.
Arlo is survived by his mother, Norrine Norman Elkins of Rockford; his wife of 34 years, Tara T. Elkins of Columbia; their children, Alyssa (Sammy) Rhodes of Columbia, Elliot Elkins of Ft. Myers, Fla., Kelsey (Andrew) Mathias of Greenville, S.C.; five grandchildren, Jayne Mac, Asher, Eloise, and Sadie Rhodes, and Charlie Mathias; one brother, Dan Elkins of Atlanta. He was preceded in death by his father, Ardie L. Elkins, and a brother, Larry Elkins.
A memorial service was held Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at The Zone at Williams Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C. Burial will be in his hometown of Rockford. Memorials may be made to LIVESTRONG, National Mail Processing Center, PO Box 6003, Albert Lea, MN 56007-6603. Shives Funeral Home is assisting the family (ShivesFuneralHome.com, 803-754-6290).