May 3, 2018
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- After leading the Notre Dame women's tennis program to 24 NCAA Championship appearances, two national semifinals and 19 conference championships over 29 seasons, head coach Jay Louderback has announced he will retire from coaching this summer.
"To quote Lou Gehrig, `Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,'" Louderback said. "I am retiring after 29 years at Notre Dame to spend more time with my wife, Denise, and our family. I didn't realize when Dick Rosenthal hired me in 1989 it would be such a life-changing experience."
"Notre Dame has been such a special place to coach because of the amazing student-athletes and outstanding athletics staff. I would like to thank the assistant coaches, administrators, fellow coaches and everyone associated with the University that I have had the pleasure of working alongside. I will treasure all of the experiences I have shared with our student-athletes and look forward to being Notre Dame's biggest fan."
"For nearly three decades Jay Louderback has fielded great teams, helped to shape the lives of his students and represented the University with great skill and grace," said University Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick. "His impact has been enormous and so too will be the loss we will feel in his absence."
The University will commence a national search for the program's sixth head coach.
Louderback took over a fledgling Irish program in 1989 that had played at the Division I level for just four years and never qualified for the NCAA Championship. Three decades later, the women's tennis program has amassed:
- 24 NCAA Championship bids (22 consecutive from 1996-2017)
- Three NCAA quarterfinal appearances
- Two NCAA semifinal appearances
- 28 All-America honors by 13 student-athletes
- 31 NCAA Singles Championship invitations by 14 players
- 20 NCAA Doubles Championship invitations by 19 players
- 19 conference championships
- 26 all-conference selections by 14 players
- 19 ITA All-Academic Team Awards
- 2017 ITA/Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship & Leadership Award National Winner (Monica Robinson)
Along the way, Louderback has amassed an impressive collection of coaching awards, including:
- 2006 ITA National Coach of the Year
- Four ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year Awards
- 14 conference coach of the year awards
- 2003 USTA Tennis Family of the Year (with wife, Denise, and daughter, Bailey, who played for the Irish from 2004-08)
Louderback played collegiate tennis at Wichita State in his native Kansas, winning the 1976 Missouri Valley Conference Singles Championship. He went on to coach the women's team at his alma mater, winning three conference titles, before taking over the men's and women's programs at Iowa State for three seasons.
His first season at Notre Dame saw the Irish go 17-8 before achieving their first-ever national ranking in his second season with a 16-9 record and final rank of 23rd. That year, Melissa Harris became the program's first NCAA Singles Championship qualifier.
The 1990s saw Louderback establish Notre Dame as a regular in the NCAA Championship field. The Irish captured nine conference titles in the decade (six in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and three in the BIG EAST), while earning six NCAA bids. They finished among the ITA's top 25 seven times in the `90s and a new level was reached in 1995-96 when the team finished ranked sixth in the nation and reached the NCAA quarterfinals with a record of 23-7.
The bar continued to rise in the 2000s, starting in 2001 when Michelle Dasso was named the ITA National Senior Player of the Year after making the NCAA Singles Championship during all four seasons and becoming the program's first four-time All-American.
In 2003, the arrival of twins Catrina and Christian Thompson brought an even higher level of success. As sophomores, the duo finished as runners-up at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships and reached the semifinals of the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships while becoming the first doubles team in program history to ascend to a national No. 1 doubles ranking. The Thompsons went on to win the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in 2005.
Just two years later, Brook Buck and Kelcy Teft gave the team another national title, winning the ITA National Indoors doubles title in November 2007. They went on to reach the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships the following spring.
As a team, the Irish reached the national semifinals at the NCAA Championships in both 2009 and 2010. Teft paired with Kristy Frilling to open the season as the nation's top-ranked doubles team, with Teft going on to win ITA Senior National Player of the Year honors.
The Irish returned to the NCAA Round of 16 in 2014, with Quinn Gleason qualifying for the NCAA Singles Championship, as well as the doubles tournament with Britney Sanders. In 2017, Monica Robinson achieved another program first, winning the ITA/Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award.
Louderback and his wife, Denise, have one daughter, Bailey. Bailey played for the Irish tennis team before graduating from Notre Dame in 2008. The Louderback family was named the USTA Tennis Family of the Year in 2003. The award is given to one family consisting of USTA members and volunteers who have excelled in advancing the USTA's mission to promote and grow the game of tennis both on and off the court.
-- ND --