Tuesday, July 16, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – University of North Florida Director of Athletics Lee Moon has announced the hiring of Mark Finnegan as head coach of the UNF men's tennis team.
Finnegan arrives at UNF following a five-year stint at Memphis, where he helped the Tigers become one of the Top 20 teams in the nation.
“We are excited to have Mark as our next men's tennis coach,” said Moon. “Mark has all the qualities that we were looking for. An energetic coach, Mark is well-connected and respected throughout the collegiate tennis community. His proven ability to recruit at a high level helped transform Memphis into a Top 20 team. With all that he brings to the table, we look forward to seeing Mark grow UNF's men's tennis program to that elite level and know that he is a tremendous addition to our department's family atmosphere.”
“I am honored to become the next men's coach at the University of North Florida,” said Finnegan. “I want to thank Lee Moon for allowing me the opportunity to take the program to the highest level of NCAA Division I athletics.
“Adam Schaechterle has laid a phenomenal foundation for the program to keep moving forward and I will be forever grateful for all his hard work he put in these past few years,” added Finnegan. “We have a talented group of incoming freshmen, one transfer and three returning players, all of whom will be imperative to our bright future ahead. I am feeling excitement, a sense of urgency and overwhelming optimism about the upcoming year. Atlantic Sun Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances will be coming in the near future. I could not be more proud to be part of the Osprey family.”
Finnegan was an assistant coach at Memphis for his first four years before being elevated to associate head coach prior to the 2013 season. Finnegan was named ITA Regional Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and was also runner-up for ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2013. He is a two-time Regional ITA Assistant Coach of the Year as well as a two-time C-USA Assistant Coach of the Year.
Under Finnegan's tutelage, the Tigers went from being unranked to finishing in the Top 35 in each of the last two years. In 2012, Memphis made its first-ever NCAA Championships appearance and finished second in the Conference USA regular season and tournament. The Tigers went 19-6 on the season with their 19 wins being their most in a single season since 2002. As a result, Memphis finished the year at No. 35 in the ITA National Rankings.
The Tigers followed up 2012 with an even more successful 2013 season. Memphis won the C-USA Tournament, earning a bid to the NCAA Championships as the No. 32nd team in the nation. Memphis shutout No. 38 BYU in the NCAA First Round and then upset No. 7 and Regional host Ole Miss in the NCAA Second Round in order to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in program history. Although the Tigers' season ended in the Round of 16 to perennial power Pepperdine, Memphis' team achievements did not go unnoticed. The Tigers finished at No. 20 in the ITA National Rankings, which surpassed Memphis' previous highest-ranking.
Individuals also flourished under Finnegan in the 2013 season. Sophomore Connor Glennon was named 2013 C-USA Player of the Year, junior Johnny Grimal was the Outstanding Singles Player of the C-USA Championship and Joe Salisbury and David O'Hare were the Outstanding Doubles Team of the C-USA Championship.
Recruiting has been one of Finnegan's strengths. Three of his recruiting classes have been nationally-ranked. In January 2013, Finnegan successfully recruited the No. 19 world-ranked junior tennis player to Memphis.
Off the court, Memphis has maintain a solid performance in the classroom with the team GPA never dropping below a 3.2 while Finnegan was a coach. The Tigers twice had the highest GPA for a C-USA men's program and approximately 75 percent of Finnegan's student-athletes have been ITA Academic All-Americans.
In addition to responsibilities with the men's program, Finnegan assisted with Memphis' women's tennis team. He helped the women's program their first NCAA appearance in 2013 as well as a program-high ranking of No. 22 in 2013. Individually, Courtney Collins ranked as high a No. 20 in the ITA's singles rankings.
Finnegan played Division I tennis at both Georgia Southern and Memphis. While at Georgia Southern, he was named the 2002 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, All-Conference and the team's MVP.
Finnegan graduated from Memphis in 2004 with a degree in finance. He is married to the former Molly Smith and the couple has a son named Kellum, who was born in March 2013.
He will take the helm of a UNF men's tennis program that captured the 2013 Atlantic Sun Regular Season championship. The Ospreys have also advanced to the Atlantic Sun Tournament championship match in each of the last two years.