Posted: Jul 17, 2012 10:36 AM
University of Kentucky men's tennis coach Dennis Emery announced his retirement from coaching Monday.
After 30 years as the skipper of the men's tennis team, Emery will take a position as special assistant to the athletic director.
"I feel the time is right for me to leave coaching," Emery said. "Over the last decade, we have been in the top 15 in the final rankings seven times, made two Elite Eights, four Sweet 16s and had two NCAA Singles finalists. In addition, Eric Quigley tied the record for all-time singles wins in NCAA history and won the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award, which is based on performance and character. I am proud of our program and what we have accomplished."
Emery ranks among the most decorated collegiate tennis coaches in America. Emery ended the 2012 season with a 655-404 career record, ranking him sixth among active coaches, while his 23 NCAA Tournament berths was second among active coaches. Emery won 394 more matches than any other head coach in UK tennis history and never dropped a match to an in-state opponent.
"Dennis, his wife, Brenda, and their three adult children, Merritt, Andrew and Matthew, have been a fixture in our athletic department for a long time," UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said. "Although he will no longer be gracing the courts, we are thrilled that he has elected to stay with our department and help us achieve our goals of building a championship culture. What Dennis achieved with our tennis program is historic and we will always be indebted to him for his hard work and dedication for that program. I look forward to him continuing to be a part of UK Athletics."
Emery ends his coaching tenure third in all-time in wins at UK behind legendary basketball coach Adolph Rupp and baseball coach Keith Madison. Emery took over the UK program in 1983 after a successful five-year stint with Austin Peay University. In his 30 years at UK, Emery guided the Cats to two Southeastern Conference championships, 23 NCAA Tournament appearances and helped 19 Wildcat men to 38 All-America honors. During his stretch of success, Emery was named SEC Coach of the Year three times - including 2012 - and was a finalist for National Coach of the Year twice. Emery also led three players to the finals of the NCAA Singles Tournament, including Eric Quigley last season.
"When Mitch presented me with his vision for the growth of the athletics department over the next seven years and how I could help, it was very compelling," Emery said. "Mitch is building a championship culture here at Kentucky and it's a long process to accomplish that, but I want to do my part to help him achieve it. I love this university and want to do whatever I can to see it succeed."
Emery's new role will involve fund raising with UK's development office.
"I've been blessed for 35 years to do what I love to do. These last 30 years at Kentucky I have lived out my dream. There is no question that I would not change a thing. God has been so good to me. I think I am someone who represents what college athletics is supposed to be about - someone who comes from a lower-middle class background, goes to school on an athletic scholarship and the degree earned changes their socio-economic status. Because of that, the athletic system and university means so much to me," Emery said.
UK officials say a search for Emery's replacement will begin immediately.