Longhorn Hall of Honor: Vickie Paynter-Finney
Nov. 1, 2012
Mallory Majcher, Texas Media Relations
Vickie Paynter-Finney's legacy at The University of Texas began unexpectedly, and perhaps even a little premature. She was still in high school, visiting campus for the first time as a tennis recruit.
"I felt like I was at home. I didn't go on any more recruiting trips after that," Paynter-Finney said.
Similarly, Paynter-Finney's journey as a Texas student athlete began with a single dream. Seeing any number other than No. 1 next to The University of Texas in the NCAA tennis rankings disheartened her, along with teammates past and present.
"It was the team my freshman year that had a dream to get to the final four. I remember thinking how amazing that would be," she recalled.
The Longhorns finally made that dream a reality her senior year. A four-time All-American and three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national champion, Paynter-Finney led the Longhorns to their first NCAA tennis team title in 1993.
"I couldn't even picture (a National Championship) in my head three years before. Once we got (to the Final Four), we expected nothing less than winning it all," Paynter-Finney said.
Paynter-Finney describes the 1993 National Championship as a defining moment in her life and a journey that started before she was even a student at Texas. She said the passion for the game of tennis and the dream to win started generations before her.
In turn, Paynter-Finney's mark on the program has impacted future generations.
Paynter-Finney teamed with Gilchrist and their win at No. 1 doubles clinched UT's 5-2 victory against Stanford in the 1993 NCAA Championship match.
When the ball landed in the net on the other side of the court, Paynter-Finney, and the rest of the Texas tennis team, sealed a dream for not only themselves but an entire burnt orange nation.
"The passing of that dream to win a National Championship and the passing of that passion for the game of tennis from generation to generation was a key factor in winning the National Championship (in 1993)," Paynter-Finney said. "It allowed us to build on that passion and track the progress we made."
Through her years at Texas, the passion and pride that she shared with her teammates and fellow Longhorns was what Paynter-Finney cherished most. She remembers, at freshman orientation, being asked to wear a baseball hat with little longhorns on it. Every time she was asked to speak, she had to say, "My name is Vickie Paynter, and I am proud to be a Longhorn. Hook 'Em."
"After being (at Texas) for four years, you just finally got what that meant," recalls Paynter-Finney. "There is just so much pride in being a Longhorn."
She earned her Bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems. Following graduation, Paynter-Finney went on to play professional tennis and appeared in all four Grand Slam tournaments. Today, she is a mom of three and runs the web division of Dot Command Center, Inc.
The passion that carried her to the Forty Acres and to a national championship is still with Paynter-Finney. Every now and then, you can still find her on the tennis court.