FERN ‘PEACHY’ KELLMEYER


Western Virginia native Fern ‘Peachy’ Kellmeyer (b.1944) stands among the pioneers who changed the face of women’s tennis. A junior champion in the 1950’s, Kellmeyer went on to play No.1 on the University of Miami women’s tennis team and became the first woman to compete on a Division 1 men’s squad. Hired as physical education director and coach at Florida’s Marymount College in 1966, Kellmeyer sued successfully to overturn an NCAA rule barring women’s athletic scholarships – blazing a trail for TITLE IX legislation.

In 1973 Kellmeyer was tapped by founder¬†Gladys Heldman¬†as the first tour director of the fledgling Virginia Slims circuit. She pushed continuously to secure additional venues and increased prize money for her players; and in 1977 she brought the first woman’s ttennis tournament to Madison Square Garden. Currently senior vice-president of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Tour, Kellmeyer says, “I’m proud to see what has happened with women’s athletics. Women will just keep fighting into the next century.”

Career Highlights

  • West Virginia State Singles Champion 1957, 1958
  • Orange Bowl Champion (13-and-under nationals) 1957
  • Penn State Tournament Champion in all three junior divisions 1957
  • Girls’ 15 Singles Finalist 1959
  • Youngest player (age 15) invited to compete at U.S. nationals at Forest Hills 1959
  • Winner of the USTA Girls’ Sportsmanship Trophy 1962
  • U.S. Junior Wightman Cup Team Member 1963
  • B.A.’66 Miami; M.A.’74 Florida Atlantic University
  • No.1 player on the University of Miami women’s tennis team 1964-1966
  • First woman to play on the men’s tennis team at the University of Miami 1964-1966
  • Ranked in the USTA Top 10 1966
  • Coach, Marymount College women’s tennis team 1966-1971; Florida state champions 1970
  • Coach, U.S. Bonne Bell Cup Team 1974
  • Referee, 1st Virginia Slims Championships 1972
  • Tour Director, Virginia Slims Tennis 1973-1976
  • Executive Director, Virginia Slims Tennis 1977-1981
  • Organized first women’s tennis event (Virginia Slims Championship) at Madison Square Garden 1977
  • Director, WTA 1981-1993
  • Vice-President of Operations and Player Relations, WTA, 1993-1998; Senior Vice-President 1998 – present
  • Member, WTA Tour Board of Directors 1973 – present
  • Davis Gray Special Service Award 1987
  • Distinguished West Virginian Award 1988
  • Shaping the Future of Women’s Tennis/Virginia Slims Award 1990
  • Peachy Kellmeyer Stadium Court named at the Charleston, W.Va. Tennis Club Club 1992
  • Virginia Slims Tournament Directors Award 1992