Karen Ruff coached at Cartersville High School for 37 years. Her boys and girls tennis teams teams each won over 70 percent of their matches. On her mantle sits awards for 17 region championships.
Ruff was recognized for these accomplishments—and many more—on June 4, when she was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It’s just a huge honor and it speaks volumes about the kids ... that played tennis for Cartersville High School as well as the parents at the high school and the community itself,” Ruff said.
While Ruff couldn’t attend the induction ceremony at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton, former Cartersville player Daniel Cowan was on hand to accept the award for her.
Ruff started coaching tennis at a middle school in Paulding County before moving to Cartersville in 1973. At that time, tennis was not considered a team sport in Georgia. It was reclassified as a team sport in 1987, opening the door for Ruff’s teams to go on a long stretch of dominance.
Her girls teams won an unfathomable 85.4 percent of their matches with Ruff in charge, and captured 12 region championships and one state championship.
Her boys teams also had success, winning 71.5 percent of their matches and collecting five region championships.
“I really just couldn’t have done this without the support of my family and the support of the parents and the players,” Ruff said. “It was just a very much family-oriented situation and many of the letters of recommendation that were written for me were by former players and parents of different players as well.”
Ruff becomes just the second Cartersville-affiliated coach to be inducted to the GACA Hall of Fame, and the first to spend the majority of their career at the school. Former Henry County basketball coach Chuck Miller, who also spent time at Cartersville, was inducted in 2013.