TEMPE, Ariz. (TheSunDevils.com) – After an eight-year hiatus, Sun Devil Athletics announced the reinstatement of the men’s tennis program at Arizona State. Through a lead gift of $1M by Buffie and Ray Anderson, Vice President for University Athletics, ASU will now field a total of 26 NCAA varsity sports.
“ASU student athletes exemplify the University’s commitment to access, excellence and impact, and the addition of men’s tennis will extend the opportunity to compete as Sun Devils to a new group of young athletes,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The investment that Ray and Buffie are making in the program further demonstrates their commitment to the institution, and to the community.”
Last month ASU announced its alliance with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), which served as a precursor to formally reinstating the men’s tennis program.
“I am so pleased that Buffie and I can personally support opportunities for our student-athletes,” Anderson said. “In my time here, and as I have learned about the history of the program, I have come to understand how much the sport of men’s tennis means to the community. Finding a way to reinstate the men’s tennis program was a passion for Buffie and myself. ASU’s alliance with the ITA was the perfect precursor to reenergize the tennis community in the Valley, and bring back men’s tennis to Arizona State.”
Also contributing to the revival of men’s tennis is apparel partner adidas, whose contract with Arizona State provided support for the addition of future sporting programs.
"The game of tennis is international and is reflective of adidas’ global footprint,” Mark King, president of adidas group North America said. “Along with Arizona State and its new alliance with the ITA, adidas saw the reinstatement of the ASU men’s tennis program as, not only an opportunity to impact the game of collegiate tennis, but expand opportunities within the sport and impact a diverse community of athletes."
In total, Arizona State has raised $5M to support upstart of the program, with a goal of $10M total needed to sustain the addition of men’s tennis. Sun Devil Athletics has launched a campaign, today, to raise the remaining $5M needed to fully support the men’s tennis program. Individuals interested in playing a part in the reinstatement of men’s tennis and contributing to the program can CLICK HERE to give.
Nationally there are 52 D1-Power Five schools that sponsor men’s tennis and 93 NCAA D1-FBS men’s tennis programs. Previously, ASU was one of four Pac-12 schools – along with Colorado, Oregon State, and Washington State, to not field a men’s tennis team.
“The return of Arizona State men’s tennis elevates Arizona State, Sun Devil Athletics and our women’s tennis program,” said women’s tennis head coach Shelia McInerney. “Reviving the men’s team will reestablish the amazing sense of camaraderie we previously experienced competing alongside each other for decades. Beyond creating lasting bonds and friendships, the level of competition of the men’s team elevates and drives the performance of our female student-athletes. Perennially the top-15, top-10 teams in the nation field both men and women’s programs and that is no coincidence. I could not be more enthusiastic, as a coach and a life-long Sun Devil, of the prospect of returning the NCAA men’s program to the Valley.”
Arizona State has added four new programs over the last 18 months. In addition to men’s tennis, Arizona State elevated its National Championship-winning club ice hockey team to NCAA-status, and added women’s lacrosse and the emerging sport of women’s triathlon.
ASU previously sponsored men’s tennis from 1902-2008, making it the second-oldest sport on campus, following only football (1897). In 2008, citing budget cuts, Arizona State dropped men’s tennis, wrestling and men’s swimming from its roster of NCAA sports. With donor support, wrestling and men’s swimming were reinstated that year, however men’s tennis was sidelined as an NCAA sport.
With 18 top-five conference finishes and six top-25 national finishes, the Arizona State men’s tennis team was a formidable opponent in the former Pac-10 Conference. In 1995 Sargis Sargsian rewrote the tennis record books to become the first Sun Devil to win the NCAA Singles Title. The three-set win over USC’s Brett Hansen gave Sargsian the individual national championship, and earned him the title of NCAA Player of the Year, Pac-10 Player of the Year, All-American honors and the top singles ranking in the country. In all, 10 student-athletes earned 14 All-American honors and long-time head coach Lou Belken was named Pac-10 Coach of the year in 1999 and 2008.