Athletics at Radford University have never been the forefront of the university, but it might just be the time for that to change.
Over the past 15 years, Head Coach Mike Anderson has been shaping the men’s tennis team into a powerhouse in the Big South, and a force to be reckoned with in the NCAA. With over 200 career victories, Anderson has been named the Big South Coach of the Year five times, along with winning three conference tournament championships and reaching the NCAA championships three times. as well.
This year’s squad is looking exceptionally good with big name returners, such as senior Ivan Salec, as the Highlander men’s tennis team expects to make a push for the NCAA championships again.
“The team this year is probably the youngest we have had across the board since I have been coaching, and it is unquestionably top to bottom the most talented,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to win the conference tournament, advance to the NCAA, win a regional and get to the sweet 16 of college tennis.”
Anderson has no plans of leaving RU any time soon; he has loved the experience of coaching tennis here for the past 15 years.
“I am settled in the area,” Anderson said. “All three of my children went to RU and my wife works here as well. I never aspired to make a lot of money coaching or to advance on to a higher profile job. I like the challenge of taking RU to the higher levels of Division 1 college tennis and spreading the word about Radford University and our tennis program.”
While some of RU’s athletic programs are always up and down, the tennis program is on the rise and expects to compete with the top schools in the country every season.
“It has been a great experience,” Anderson said. ”Getting to know so many players and their families and to travel the world looking at and recruiting talent. It has also been a real learning experience. I took the job at 46 years of age with very little college coaching experience. Just like a 22-year-old college grad, I had to feel my way in the workplace.”
After a successful regular season, Anderson has the squad ranked No. 74 in the NCAA, and finished the season on a 15-game win-streak going into the Big South Tournament. With only three losses in the season against Cornell University, University of Maryland, and Winthrop University, another appearance in the NCAA Tournament seems likely. The Highs return to action this Thursday in the Big South Tournament as the No. 2 seed, looking to win their way into the NCAA’s.