BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett announced on Friday a restructuring of the coaching staff within the tennis programs. Both the men’s and women’s programs will now have a dedicated head coach. Dave Shook will continue as head coach for women’s tennis while former assistant coach, Wouter Hendrix, will move into the role of head men’s coach. In addition, the Mountain Hawks added women’s assistant coach Tammy Cecchini and graduate assistant (for both programs) Jackie Carleton.
“Dave is excited to be able to focus his energy and experience on one team, and Wouter is prepared for the opportunities inherent in leading a program,” said Sterrett. “I have high confidence in each of them. It’s exciting to be able to elevate our aspirations for each program given the added focus and attention that both will receive.”
Shook just finished his 16th season as the head coach of the women’s team and 23rd as the men’s head coach. Owning the most coaching victories in Lehigh tennis history, Shook has posted a 248-209 record as men’s coach and 132-140 with the women. He picked up his 300th total win in 2008 and enters next season just 20 wins shy of 400.
“I’m leaving the men’s tennis program in the hands of an incredible guy and great coach in Wouter Hendrix,” said Shook. “Two years ago, our team was ranked 136th out of over 320 teams. We were the highest-ranked Patriot League team, which was quite an accomplishment for us. We recently had a doubles team ranked 77th nationally. We feel we can do this with the women too. We’re looking to concentrate on the women’s program because they work hard and deserve it.”
Hendrix completed his fourth season with the Lehigh tennis program, serving as both men’s and women’s assistant coach and Director of the Lewis Tennis Center. Prior to coming to the United States, he obtained master’s degrees in History and Political Science at the University of Leuven in his home country Belgium. Since his time at Lehigh, he has helped take the Mountain Hawks to new heights.
“Having the opportunity to run the men’s tennis program here at Lehigh is truly a dream come true,” said Hendrix. “I feel blessed and fortunate to be able to coach the sport that has been my passion for my entire life, and to work in such a high quality environment. Lehigh Athletics has been like family to me ever since I started working here as a graduate assistant.
“I already know I’m getting to lead a terrific roster of young men because I have worked with them over the past few years,” Hendrix continued. “We have great chemistry and work ethic, and we’re looking to improve every day. It’s a thrill to watch them develop into leaders and winners.”
The men’s program advanced to the Patriot League Championship Match two years ago before finishing 13-8 and earning the #2 seed in the league tournament. Last season, Lehigh picked up a big 5-2 win over defending Patriot League Champion Army as part of it 4-1 league record.
The women finished at 5-14 last season, 2-3 in league play. After a tough start, the Mountain Hawks won two of their final three regular season matches, defeating Colgate (4-3) and Lafayette (7-0) to gain momentum moving forward. Sophomore Jenai Bilimoria was named a Second Team All-Patriot League honoree, consistently battling opponents’ top players at #1 singles and doubles.
“I cannot express enough gratitude towards Coach Shook for allowing me to grow as a college tennis coach and for mentoring me for four years,” said Hendrix. “He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when he hired me as his assistant. He has taught me the ins and outs of college tennis. His inspiring leadership and motivational skills are exemplary to me. He has earned the respect of his players and fellow coaches for over 23 years. You can only achieve this if you have exceptional core values and character. His patience and wisdom have made me a better professional, and for that I will always be grateful.”
“With Dave's continued engagement, the added attention of Wouter and a first rate staff, we believe the levels of support for Lehigh tennis can now be capitalized in meaningful ways,” said Sterrett. “I thank Dave for the extraordinary job he has done in managing our program over a long time period. I thank him also for selecting and working to develop the experience and talents of Wouter Hendrix so we could make this move.”
“Each coach will have 10 less players, 140 less practices and 25 less matches on their plate,” said Shook. “You get all that off your plate, which allows you to concentrate on one team. Right away, that attention’s going to help considerably. Each team will have its own dedicated practice and each one of us will be able to concentrate on a single task in recruiting.”
Also coming on board are Cecchini and Carleton. Cecchini, a former #1 player and captain at Penn State, will serve as women’s assistant coach while Carleton, a former All-American at UCLA, will be the graduate assistant for both programs. She was an All-American her freshman year with the Bruins, finishing 23rd nationally in singles.