TUCSON--Tad Berkowitz, an assistant on the Wildcat staff for two seasons, was named to head the men's tennis program today, replacing 19-year veteran Bill Wright, who announced his retirement last week.
Berkowitz, 30, was Wright's assistant this year and last season. He has coached at Texas A&M and Alabama, plus was a top tennis competitor as a collegian at Kentucky and New Mexico.
"I'm proud to be replacing a coaching legend of college tennis," Berkowitz said. "Bill's stature in the game is remarkable, and he's helped me a great deal. I'm ready to take on the challenge of heading a program," he said.
"It's a great opportunity to be a head coach at an institution like Arizona. The coaching staffs are awesome -- Olympic gold medalists, hall of famers, national coaches of the year... I'm happy to be worthy of the opportunity to work with such mentors," Berkowitz said.
Jim Livengood, UA director of athletics, said Berkowitz was a natural choice.
"The search centered quickly on Tad. He's a bright young coach whose organizational skills and aggressive style made him the best possible fit for our program. And he comes highly recommended by a Wildcat source we trust deeply, coach Bill Wright. Saying goodbye to Bill after all he's done for Arizona will be a little bit easier knowing he's behind Tad Berkowitz," Livengood said.
Berkowitz played collegiate tennis as the No. 5 singles player at Kentucky in 1993, then transferred to New Mexico where he helped lead the Lobos to Western Athletic Conference championships in 1994 and 1995. He earned All-WAC honors three years and won league Player of the Year honors in 1996. Berkowitz competed in the NCAA Championships each of his years in Albuquerque.
A native of Tampa Bay, Fla., Berkowitz was the head coach at St. Stepens Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas, in 2002, a USA Collegiate Summer National Team coach later that year, and an assistant at Texas A&M from 2001-2002. He began his coaching career in 1999 as as assistant at Alabama for three seasons. In his final year he helped the Crimson Tide earn a No. 18 national ranking and a berth in the NCAA Championships.
Berkowitz' wife, Christi, is an English teacher at Ironwood High School in Tucson.
Arizona will send doubles players Colin O'Grady and Roget Matalonga, All-Pac-10 second-team selections, to the NCAA Tournament later this month, but missed the Championships as a team entrant. The Cats were ranked No. 51 at the end of the year and finished 8-12 and 2-10 in the Pac-10.
Wright compiled a 184-244 record in his 19 seasons at Arizona and was 2004 and 2001 Region VIII Coach of the Year. While coaching earlier at California he earned National and Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors in 1982.
The Wildcats had a squad with eight freshmen or sophomores in 2004, with two seniors. The team will return at least 10 players for the 2005-06 school year.