June 8, 2011
Skillman, N.J. – Recognized for building Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis program over the past two years into one of the nation’s best, Georgia Tech men’s tennis coach Kenny Thorne has been named the Wilson/ITA Division I National Coach of the Year, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Wednesday.
Thorne, a 1988 Georgia Tech graduate who returned to the Institute as head men’s tennis coach in 1998, has taken 10 of his 13 Tech teams to the NCAA Championship, but this year’s squad surpassed all of his previous teams in wins, overall and in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and advancement in the NCAA Championship.
“I must first congratulate Peter Smith of USC on his third national title in a row and Brian Boland for another great year at UVA,” said Thorne. “Those two guys are responsible for our last two losses of the season and did incredible jobs with their teams. I am honored and absolutely humbled to have received this award and know that it is a direct result of the passionate work the guys on our team put in, as well as (assistant coaches) Aljosa (Piric) and Josh (Hausman). We have been able to surround our program with some incredible people, and they are responsible for our success.”
Thorne led the Yellow Jackets to a 21-6 dual-match record and their first berth in the NCAA Round of 16 since 1994. The 21 victories were the second-highest win total in the history of its men’s tennis program and the most wins for the Yellow Jackets under Thorne. Tech also set a high-water mark for ACC wins this spring, posting an 8-3 league mark and a tie for fourth place in the standings.
Tech hosted an NCAA regional this year for only the second time in its history, defeating Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State to earn only the second Round of 16 berth in program annals. Tech steadily climbed from its pre-spring ranking of No. 23 to a high of No. 13 in the final ITA rankings.
“Coach Thorne is well deserving of this recognition,” said Tech director of athletics Dan Radakovich. “His hard work and dedication to Georgia Tech is displayed on a daily basis through his actions, but the results were seen by all when his team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1994. We are very proud of Kenny’s efforts on and off the court and pleased that his peers recognized him as well.”
Thorne has compiled a 180-130 overall dual match record at Tech in 13 seasons. In the last two years, with a group of five seniors serving as the core of the team, Tech has compiled a 39-14 overall record, 15-7 in the ACC with two NCAA appearances.
He coached three All-Americans in 2011, singles player Guillermo Gomez, who was ranked 14th in the nation and reached the NCAA round of 16, and the doubles team of Kevin King and Juan Spir, who were ranked 14th nationally and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championship. All three players also were named to the All-ACC team.
Gomez finished his career with 119 career singles wins, surpassing Thorne’s own Georgia Tech record. He earned All-ACC honors for the fourth time, All-America honors for the third time, and played in the NCAA Singles Championship for the fourth time.
“I want to thank (associate director of athletics) Theresa Wenzel for the tireless support she gives me and our student-athletes,” said Thorne, who is is the ninth Georgia Tech head coach in the history of the Institute to earn national coach of the year recognition. “I also want to thank Dan Radakovich for his support of me, our tennis program and the future success of our teams. We are in the process of building a new tennis facility, and Dan has been instrumental in helping that dream become a reality. A special thanks as well to our incredible Georgia Tech tennis boosters that allow our program to continue to move forward. There are so many college tennis coaches out there that are passionate about coaching and do incredible jobs so I am honored to be working alongside all of them. We have the best job in all of tennis and I sincerely thank God that I am able to get paid to do something I love.”
Florida’s Roland Thornqvist was the recipient for the women. Wilson, the Official Tennis Racquet, Tennis Ball, String and Accessory Company of the ITA, has been the ITA’s title sponsor of the ITA Coach of the Year since the awards’ inception in 1973.
GEORGIA TECH’S NATIONAL COACHES OF THE YEAR
Football – William Alexander (1942), Bobby Dodd (1952), Bobby Ross (1990), George O’Leary (2000), Paul Johnson (2008)
Men’s Basketball – Bobby Cremins (1985, 1990)
Baseball – Danny Hall (1997)
Women’s Tennis – Bryan Shelton (2007)
Men’s Tennis – Kenny Thorne (2011)