Robert Cox to end 26 years as Hog tennis coach

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 137 views 

Longtime Arkansas head men’s tennis coach Robert Cox will step down from his coaching position at the completion of the current season he announced on Monday.

Cox is finishing his 26th season as the head coach of the men’s tennis program and has won more dual matches (323) than any tennis coach in Razorback history. In fact, Cox has guided the Razorbacks to more than 42 percent of the program’s win total (762). Cox first came to the University of Arkansas as a student-athlete, playing on the 1977 and 1978 men’s tennis teams.

Following the season, Cox will assume a position within the athletic department’s administration working with the facilities and event management divisions.

The Razorbacks’ doubles team of Manfred Jeske and Mike Nott qualified for the doubles draw of the NCAA Tournament and will compete beginning on May 22 in Urbana, Ill. Arkansas won 16 dual matches in 2013, the program’s highest single-season win total since 2006, including five victories over ranked opponents.

“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to lead the men’s tennis program at the University of Arkansas for the past 26 seasons,” Cox said. “In that time, I have been blessed to be a part of more than 320 wins, multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and some extraordinary on-court accomplishments. However, I am most proud of the outstanding young men who have been a part our program and all they have accomplished as Razorback student-athletes by earning their college degrees and proudly representing the University of Arkansas and our entire state.

In his 26 years, he led Arkansas to nine NCAA Tournament appearances as a team, six regional finals and one Round of 16 appearance. He had 15 seasons with 12 or more victories, 11 teams ranked among the top 35 in the nation and produced 13 All-Americans.

In addition to the All-America selections, Cox had 23 All-SEC selections, seven SWC champions, two ITA national champions, two ITA No. 1-ranked singles players and one ITA No. 1-ranked doubles team.

His teams also were impressive in the classroom. Nearly every one of his student-athletes who completed their athletic eligibility earned their college diploma during his coaching tenure. In 2012, the Razorbacks became the first team in program history to be named to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s All-Academic List.

The squad also became the first men’s sport at Arkansas to garner a public recognition award for its perfect 1,000 multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR). In 2009, Blake Strode was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Strode was also a recipient of the Bodenhamer Fellowship at the University of Arkansas and was an NCAA singles semifinalist in 2009.

Under Cox, the Razorbacks were ranked in the nation's top 30 at some point during every season from 1990-2007 with the exception of the 2000 season. Arkansas finished with final national rankings of No. 18 in 1988, No. 19 in '89, No. 17 in '92, No. 22 in '93, No. 27 in '94, No. 35 in '95, No. 34 in '98, No. 25 in 2001, No. 24 in '02, No. 39 in '03, No. 24 in '04 and No. 22 in '06.

Under Cox's guidance, Oskar Johansson became the most recent Arkansas player to capture a national title and earn a No. 1 ranking in 2001.

Cox also guided Tim Crichton and Tom Hamilton to the National Clay Court Doubles title and automatic berth in the NCAA Championship in 1996. Also in 1996, the partners held the nation's top doubles ranking for most of the season and became the first Razorback pair to secure the top spot since Peter Doohan and Pat Serret won the NCAA doubles championship in 1982.

Crichton and Hamilton reached the finals of the National Clay Court Championship again in 1997. For their efforts, Crichton and Hamilton earned both All-America and All-SEC honors in 1997 and 1998.

Cox came to Arkansas after a successful stint as the head tennis coach for both the men’s and women’s squad at Tyler Junior College. Taking the reins of the UA program in 1988, Cox turned around a team that had gone 9-16 the year before and won the Southwest Conference championship with an 18-6 record. He was the 1988 ITA Region VI Coach of the Year. Cox followed with a second SWC title in 1989, guiding the Hogs to a 19-8 finish.

Cox began his collegiate playing career at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, earning All-America honors in doubles for legendary junior college coach Fred Kniffen. While Cox was a regular in the singles lineup, he and Apache partner Ray Anders reached the finals of the National Junior College doubles championships in 1976, earning All-America honors. Cox transferred to Arkansas after his sophomore season, and as a player for the Razorbacks in 1977 and 1978, he was a part of squads that produced a 48-10 record under Pucci.

Cox has a master's degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Tyler. He is married to the former Meredith Rooney of Little Rock. His daughter, Afton, is a 2004 graduate of the University of Arkansas and received her master's degree in education in 2005. She is currently teaching at Southwest Junior High in Springdale.

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