On Tuesday afternoon, Minnesota head women’s tennis coach Chuck Merzbacher announced his intention to retire at the end of this season.
“After 28 years of being a Division I head coach, I've decided to make this year my last one. I am honored to be able to retire as a Gopher,” Merzbacher said. “I have been fortunate to work alongside hall of fame athletic directors and hall of fame coaches at four prestigious universities. I have enjoyed coaching wonderful and talented student-athletes for almost three decades. It has been an honor to be in their lives.”
His retirement at the end of this year will wrap up a career with Gopher Athletics that saw Merzbacher succeed as both a coach and, before that, as a student-athlete.
Merzbacher returned to his alma mater and took over the Gopher women’s tennis program in August 2012. After a 10-15 first season at the helm, he has led the Gophers to three consecutive winning seasons, including 17-win campaigns in both 2013-14 and 2014-15. As of today – with four matches remaining before postseason tournaments – Merzbacher has compiled a 67-56 record leading the Maroon and Gold.
While coaching three different all-conference players during his head coaching tenure, Merzbacher oversaw tremendously successful students in the classroom. At least five of his student-athletes have been named Academic All-Big Ten each of the past three seasons, and his team has won the athletics department’s Women’s Athletics Team Academic Award in three of his four full seasons as head coach. Merzbacher has also been instrumental in getting his team out into the community.
“I have been fortunate to coach student-athletes that worked equally as hard in the classroom and community as they did on the court,” Merzbacher said. “I am proud of the many student-athletes I have seen go on to succeed in their careers and lives after tennis.”
When Merzbacher returned to the Twin Cities in 2012 to lead the Gophers, he came home to a place where he had a decorated career as a Gopher student-athlete. He was a part of two Big Ten Championships (1984 and 1986), helping the team to a 42-7 conference record during his career. He graduated from Minnesota with 137 career wins, a program record that still stands today. He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a two-time NCAA qualifier.
“From his record-setting years playing tennis here as a student-athlete, to his tenure as our head women's tennis coach, Chuck has given so much of himself and his talents to the University of Minnesota. We can't thank him enough for what he's done for our tennis programs,” said athletics director Mark Coyle. “No one has more passion and a deeper connection to Gopher Athletics than Chuck. I admire his love and dedication to his alma mater. Chuck Merzbacher is and will always be a Gopher great.”
After serving as Minnesota's assistant coach in 1987, Merzbacher spent several years playing professional tennis before returning to college tennis as the head men’s tennis coach at Northern Illinois. During his three years with the Huskies, Merzbacher was twice named Mid-Continent Coach of the Year.
Merzbacher made the jump to coaching women’s tennis in 1992, taking over as the head coach at Kansas, where his team rattled off four straight Big Eight titles. He earned two Big Eight Coach of the Year honors (1993, 1994) and one Central Region Coach of the Year (1993). His Jayhawk teams were an amazing 39-1 in conference competition during his time leading the program.
His success at Kansas landed Merzbacher the head coaching assignment at Ohio State in 1996, where he coached until 2012. During his 16-year tenure with the Buckeyes, Merzbacher coached his squads to nine NCAA Tournament appearances and a total of 209 victories, becoming the winningest coach in program history.
During a head coaching career that spanned more than a quarter-century, Merzbacher has racked up 417 career wins and coached six individual All-Americans. Collectively, his teams have claimed seven conference titles and have made 12 postseason appearances.
“I have poured my heart and soul into the Gophers, Buckeyes, Jayhawks and Huskies. I leave this great profession with no regrets,” Merzbacher said. “It has been quite the journey. I look forward to supporting this Gopher tennis team and the all of Gopher athletic teams from the stands.”
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