BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Union College Director of Athletics Tim Curry announced Friday the reinstatement of the men's and women's tennis programs for the 2013-14 academic year and Bob Duricko as the program's head coach.
"We are excited about bringing tennis back to Union," said Curry. "This is a program that has a long, rich history at Union, and we are glad to bring that tradition back."
The tennis programs were suspended following the 2011 season. Prior to the recent hiatus, the men's tennis program had won five Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season championships, four AAC tournament championships, two region titles and made five trips to the NAIA National Championship Tournament. The women's program amassed four AAC regular-season championships, three AAC tournament crowns, two region championships and five berths to the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Duricko is no stranger to Union or to tennis. He received his bachelor of arts and masters degree from Union in 1972 and 1973 and played tennis for the Bulldogs. Since graduation, he spent 37 years teaching in the Barbourville and Knox County school systems until his retirement in 2010. In addition, he has spent the past 29 years working with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association region tennis tournaments and was honored as the KHSAA Outstanding Tennis Official in 1997-98.
"Having Bob Duricko rejuvenate our tennis programs makes perfect sense," said Curry. "He has been a long-time supporter of the College and our athletic department, and he knows tennis, the history of our program, the area, and believes in the mission and direction we are wanting to take the tennis programs."
Focusing on recruiting in the surrounding areas will be one of Duricko's top priorities.
"Union College is the first college in the Kentucky mountains, and we're going to try to bring back a lot of kids in the local area to play tennis at Union," he said.
This is not the first time Duricko has manned the helm of the Union tennis programs. He served as the programs' coach for two years in 1979-80, and he is eager to revitalize the programs.
"It's long overdue. We've not had tennis for a couple years, but prior to that we had really good and successful teams," Duricko said. "We'll be coming in with a young team, a lot of freshmen. Expectations will be a lot lower going against juniors and seniors (from other schools), but the effort will be there none the less. But these are kids we hope to keep for four years which will make our program stronger."
Duricko was inducted into the Mountain Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Bulldog and Lady Bulldog tennis teams will again compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. With the reinstatement of the tennis programs, Union now offers 23 intercollegiate athletic programs.