Ohio State men’s tennis coach Ty Tucker earned his 300th win Feb. 12 against LSU, becoming only the second coach in Buckeye men’s tennis history to reach this mark.
Tucker has a career record of 303-51 and only his predecessor, John Daly, has earned more wins, going 427-333 in 28 seasons from 1972–99. Tucker has averaged 26.5 wins in 11 seasons and his .856 winning percentage is the highest in OSU history.
“I feel lucky to be at Ohio State,” Tucker said. “There’s an athletic department that supports all their coaches and all their sports and gives you budgets to go out there and help these kids chase their dreams of getting better and playing at the highest level.”
Tucker’s team has finished atop the Big Ten five straight years. He has been Big Ten Coach of the Year six times.
Tucker has coached nine All-Americans and has led his team to five NCAA quarterfinals appearances.
Tucker attributes his success to good players and a good coaching staff. Two members who make up his current staff are David Schilling, volunteer assistant coach for 12 years, and Justin Kronauge, an assistant coach in his first year.
“The most important thing that people need to understand about how he has gotten to 300 wins so quickly is he just absolutely puts in the work,” Schilling said. “There’s not a harder working coach in college tennis. He does it in the things that coaches don’t like to do and it’s on the recruiting front and on the practice court. He puts in those hours and it pays off with his success and in our success.”
Tucker demands a lot from his players, and this comes with sacrifice. They must practice 11 months a year to get better and chase their dreams.
“Tucker always says, ‘Tennis has got to be a year-round passion for these guys,'” Schilling said.
Many college tennis programs take summers off, but Tucker’s work ethic and passion for the game has created a trickle-down effect.
“We’ve been able to recruit kids that have dreams of playing at the next level and being as good as they can be,” Tucker said. “We’re just looking for student-athletes who want to overachieve on the court.”
Tucker, an OSU alumnus, was the No. 1 singles player for the Buckeyes from 1989–91, leaving after his junior year for the professional circuit, where he achieved a world ranking of 273 and 35 in the U.S.
He competed against elite competition throughout his tennis career, facing world-renowned talents, including Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
“He was a great player himself, and he’s shown that he can develop talent and he gets the best out of the guys everyday at practice,” Kronauge said.
Tucker finished his anthropology degree at OSU in 1998 before becoming an assistant for two years for the Buckeyes.
“I just wanted to be at Ohio State,” Tucker said. “It’s the only place I wanted to be.
“Maybe if I win a national title someday I’ll be a curator somewhere,” he said, jokingly.
In 2004, Tucker was inducted into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Tucker has put a fence around Ohio, getting the best talent from the state, but also some of the top talents in the world.
“He’s done an unbelievable job developing talent,” Kronauge said. “Over the 12 years he’s been at Ohio State, he’s taken guys and brought their games up a couple levels to play the best competition in college tennis.”
Practice is a huge emphasis for Tucker and the coaching staff.
“I don’t think people would know how tough the practices are,” Kronauge said. “There’s a lot more than meets the eye.”
However, Tucker enjoys practice, which is one of the reasons he became a coach.
“If you like practicing and being around younger guys and trying to help guys get better,” Tucker said, “then college tennis is the ideal job for you.”
Although the 300 wins are meaningful, the staff does not have time to dwell on the accomplishment. It will continue to pursue its goals for a Big Ten title and an NCAA Championship this year.
“We don’t spend a lot of time looking back,” Schilling said. “There’s not a lot of time to look backwards. It’s a pretty forward-thinking staff. We’re more concerned about what we have to do to take that next step in the future.”
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 4 in the country and are currently 11-0.