The 2012-13 academic year marks Clay Hightower's 23rd season as
the head coach of Berry's men's and women's tennis programs. During
that time he has amassed a record of 535-325 for both teams
It is Hightower's second stint as the head coach at Berry. He first coached at the school from 1984-1986, and later returned to Berry in 1992-93 season, where he has remained for the last 18 years.
During the 2009 season, Berry's final season as a full member of the NAIA, Hightower was named the NAIA Women's Tennis Coach of the Year by the ITA. He led his women's program to a school-best No. 3 national ranking and a second-straight appearance in the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament. The Berry men's team also made it to the NAIA National Tournament for a second straight season.
Hightower has led the Berry teams to six conference championships and has been named Conference Coach of the Year six times.
A total of 25 Hightower-coached players have collected 45 NAIA All-American awards. Seven of Hightower's players have earned national academic achievement awards from the NAIA.
At least one of Berry's teams qualified for the NAIA National Tournament in nine of the final 11 years Berry was a full member of the association.
The Vikings are full NCAA Division III members for 2013-14.
Hightower played collegiate tennis for one year at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala., where he was the conference champion in both singles and doubles. He then transferred to Shorter College, where he is one of the only three players in Shorter history to have more than 100 singles wins in a career; something he accomplished in only three years. He was the Georgia Athletic Conference champion in both singles and doubles each of his three years at Shorter.
Hightower graduated with a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Shorter in 1983. He later earned a degree in health and physical education from Berry, and he completed his master's degree in education at the University of Georgia in 1989.
Coach Hightower is a native of Rome, Ga., and he graduated from nearby Coosa High School in 1979. He is married to the former Leslie Smith of Marietta, Ga. They have two children: Caroline and Carter.