Steve Wilkinson, the head men’s tennis coach at Gustavus Adolphus College for the past 39 years and the winningest coach in men’s tennis collegiate history with 923 victories, has announced that he will retire from coaching at the end of the current school year.
Since Wilkinson took over the Gustavus tennis program in 1971, his teams have compiled an overall record of 923-278 (.768) and a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conferene (MIAC) mark of 334-1 (.997). His 923rd victory, which came on Sunday against Wartburg College moved him past Jim Verdieck of the University of Redlands into first place with most victories in the history of collegiate men’s tennis (Divisions I, II, and III, and NAIA). Wilkinson’s squads have won two NCAA Division III titles (1980 and 1982) as well as 35 MIAC titles. In addition, his players have claimed six national doubles titles, and four national singles titles. He has coached 46 players to 87 All-America honors (including current ATP tour player Eric Butorac), 103 players to 226 All-Conference honors, and five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
Recognized as one of the most prominent coaches in collegiate tennis history, Wilkinson has been involved in numerous national tennis organizations having served on the executive committees of the United States Professional Tennis Association, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and the United States Tennis Association. He was inducted into the Iowa Tennis Hall of Fame in 1974, the Northern Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1983 and the United States Tennis Association Missouri Valley Hall of Fame in 1999.
Wilkinson has also played a key role in the fundraising and construction of the College’s tennis facilities, which are considered to be among the finest in the nation. Gustavus’ first-rate facilities include the Gibbs Outdoor Tennis Center, the Brown Outdoor Tennis Center, and the Swanson Indoor Tennis Center. In the summers, Wilkinson and his wife, Barbara run the Tennis and Life Camps on the Gustavus campus. The Tennis and Life camps, are considered to be among the finest tennis camps in the country.
In addition to his coaching abilities, Wilkinson was also an outstanding player in his own right. He played collegiate tennis at the University of Iowa where he finished second in #1 doubles at the Big Ten Championships his senior season. After college, Wilkinson played competitive tennis for many years and was ranked #1 in the United States in the 45, 50, 55 and 60 and over divisions. He has represented the United States in the Dubler Cup, Perry Cup and Austria Cup competition winning the world championship in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1989 and finishing second in Berlin, Germany in 1992.
The College is in the process of conducting a search for Wilkinson’s replacement and the hope is to have a new coach named sometime in early May.