Baylor men’s tennis coach Matt Knoll resigned from his position on Sunday after 22 years with the program.
“After 22 years, leading the Baylor tennis program, I’ve decided to step down to pursue a new challenge,” Knoll said in a statement.
Knoll leaves Baylor as the most successful coach in Big 12 men’s tennis history, and one of the best overall coaches in athletic department history. In 22 seasons, all in the Big 12, Knoll captured the regular season conference championship 13 times. He also won Baylor’s first team national championship – in any sport – in 2004.
After taking over a team that went winless in conference play in 1996, Knoll posted a 510-150 career record. He led the Bears to the Sweet 16 in 14 straight seasons between 2002 and 2015, and earned a spot in the NCAA semifinals four times. That includes the 2015 season, when Waco hosted the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
“Matt Knoll built the Baylor men’s tennis program into a national power and led it to unprecedented success,” Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement. “He was integral in creating the world-class facilities we now have on campus…and we are grateful for his service.”
It’s difficult to contextualize what a men’s tennis coach means to a college athletic department. However, Knoll will always have a special place at Baylor. Knoll led the Bears to eight straight Big 12 championships from 2002 to 2009. In addition to the 2004 overall national championship, the Bears also won the 2005 indoor championship.
Singles players Benjamin Becker (2004) and Benedikt Dorsch (2005) also won NCAA individual championships in consecutive seasons under Knoll’s tenure.
Baylor’s tennis national championship came at a critical time in school history. Just a year previously, the athletic department was rocked by the Dave Bliss athletic scandal. Knoll’s national championship – along with one by women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey a year later – helped provide much-needed support.
Baylor will undoubtedly be a hot landing spot for a new men’s tennis coach. The university boasts some of the best tennis facilities in all of college athletics. USA Today ranked it as the fourth-best Division I college for men’s tennis in 2016, only behind USC, UCLA and Virginia.