Eastern Kentucky University announced today that it will discontinue its men’s and women’s tennis programs, effective at the end of the 2018 season.
The affected student-athletes will be given their full releases and will be able to transfer to another institution and play immediately. Those affected student-athletes who choose to remain enrolled at EKU will continue to receive their scholarship until completion of their degree requirements.
“I deeply regret the actions taken today in cutting athletics by over $2 million, and especially the discontinuation of our women’s and men’s tennis teams,” Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller said. “Anytime a student-athlete suffers due to no cause of their own, it hurts – badly. I want to thank each of them for their contributions to Eastern Kentucky University both in the classroom and on the court.”
Two full-time coaching positions – held by head coach Rob Oertel and assistant coach Carles Pons – will be eliminated in conjunction with the discontinuation of the programs.
“I want to thank Rob Oertel for the many years of service, accomplishments and success that he has given us while serving as head coach of both tennis programs,” said Lochmueller. “I also want to thank the current coaching staff, all former head coaches and assistant coaches, and most of all the many student-athletes who played for the Colonels throughout the years.”
Eastern Kentucky University has fielded a collegiate men’s tennis team since before 1951, and started a women’s team in the early 1970s.
On the men’s side, EKU has captured four Ohio Valley Conference regular season championships (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015) and five OVC Tournament titles (1951, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015). Eastern has won five OVC women’s tennis regular season championships (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) and three tournament titles (2009, 2012, 2013). The men’s squad has appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015) and the women’s team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times (2009, 2012, 2013).
The 2018 EKU women’s tennis team is currently 5-0 in conference play and tied for first.
Sixteen of Eastern’s 17 men’s and women’s OVC tennis championships, and all seven of its NCAA Tournament appearances, have been accomplished under the tutelage of Oertel as head coach.
Oertel took over as head coach in 2002 and has accumulated a men’s record of 249-193 and a women’s mark of 243-176.
From April 5, 2011 through April 2, 2014, the Eastern Kentucky women’s team won 30 straight OVC regular season dual matches. The men’s team put together a streak of 25 straight regular season OVC dual match victories from April 12, 2008 through March 21, 2012.
Oertel has tutored 60 All-OVC selections, seven OVC Players of the Year and three OVC Freshman of the Year award winners over the past 16 seasons. He garnered OVC Women’s Coach of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013. He was chosen as the OVC Men’s Coach of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Eastern Kentucky University tennis programs have had even more success in the classroom than on the court. In the fall of 2017, the men’s team had a 3.43 grade-point-average and the women’s team combined for a 3.593 GPA, both of which were the third highest fall GPA’s on record for those sports.
The men’s team has compiled a combined GPA over 3.0 for 22 straight semesters – a period of 11 years. The women’s team has had a combined GPA over 3.0 in 19 of the last 22 semesters.
Three Colonels have earned Academic All-America honors. The men’s tennis team has recorded perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores seven times in the last nine years and has met or exceeded the national average multi-year APR score six times. The men’s team was also honored with a coveted NCAA Division I APR Public Recognition Award in 2012. The women’s program has recorded four perfect APR scores and has met or exceeded the national average multi-year score twice. The APR is a real-time measure of eligibility and retention of student-athletes competing on every Division I sports team.
Throughout its history, the men’s program has had 39 All-OVC selections, three OVC Player of the Year honorees, two OVC Freshman of the Year award winners and five OVC Coach of the Year selections. The women’s program has totaled 44 All-OVC choices, seven OVC Player of the Year winners, one OVC Freshman of the Year and three OVC Coach of the Year recipients.
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