Chuck Willenborg, a former junior and NCAA champion, has quickly turned the Johns Hopkins tennis program into one of the best in the nation. The winningest coach in the history of the men's program, he also served as the Director of Tennis from 2011 to 2014. In December of 2012, Willenborg was named the USTA/ITA National Campus QuickStart Provider of the Year for his work with both the QuickStart and 10-and-Under Tennis programs in Baltimore County. He also ranks second in the history of the JHU women's program with 91 career wins.
Since taking over the program in 2005, the Johns Hopkins men's and women's teams have combined for 417 wins (417-115 • .784). The teams' success in the Centennial Conference has been even more impressive as the Blue Jays have gone a combined 217-8 (.964) since 2005. During his tenure, Hopkins has combined to win 21 Centennial Conference titles (11 men, 10 women) and have made 21 NCAA Tournament appearances (11 men, 10 women), including seven quarterfinal appearances (4 men, 3 women). The Blue Jays have produced eight Centennial Conference Players of the Year, three Centennial Conference Rookies of the Year, one ITA National Rookie of the Year, five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, 42 ITA All-Americans, 129 all-conference selections and 144 ITA Scholar-Athletes as well as numerous nationally ranked singles players and doubles teams.
Prior to Willenborg's arrival, the men's team had never been ranked nationally or ranked higher than 16th in the Atlantic South region. The women's team had been ranked as high as 12th in the region, but had never achieved a national ranking. By the end of his first season, the men were ranked 10th in the region, while the women were ninth. Just 16 months after he was hired, both men's and women's teams earned their first ever national ranking (men-30 / women-26). After falling out of the rankings early in the spring of 2006, both programs regained their national rankings in May 2006 have been ranked for 33 consecutive polls.
The 2016 season marked the Blue Jays third straight appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Hopkins made an impressive run in the postseason as the team avenged three regular season losses, all by 5-4 scores. The run began in the Centennial Conference Championship as Hopkins beat host Swarthmore, 5-1, to win its 10th straight and 11th overall conference title. JHU then beat 24th-ranked Mary Washington (5-0) and fifth-ranked Carnegie Mellon (5-3) in the second and third rounds of the tournament. Earlier in the year, juniors Mike Buxbaum and Emerson Walsh won their third straight ITA Southeast Doubles championship. The pair, along with classmate Jeremy Dubin, went on to earn All-America honors.
Hopkins went 19-8 and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second straight year in 2015. Buxbaum and Walsh won the ITA Southeast Doubles title, while Buxbaum brought home the regional singles title. He repeated as the CC Player of the Year and earned All-America honors in both singles and doubles.
The Hopkins men returned to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2014 and posted a 20-5 record while winning a ninth Centennial Conference title. Buxbaum and Walsh won the ITA Southeast Doubles title and went on to earn All-America honors. In addition, Buxbaum was named the Centennial Conference, ITA Atlantic South and ITA National Rookie of the Year. He also earned All-America honors for singles and was named the CC Player of the Year.
In 2013, the men won their eighth overall and seventh consecutive Centennial Conference title, advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and won a school-record 16 straight matches en route to a 20-3 record. Senior Andy Hersh won his second straight ITA Southeast singles title and became the program's all-time singles wins leader before capping his career by earning ITA All-America and CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Sophomores Tanner Brown and Erik Lim captured the ITA Southeast doubles title and earned All-America honors as well.
The 2012 season saw the Blue Jays break through for their first-ever NCAA Quarterfinal appearance. On the heels of the program's sixth straight conference title, Hopkins defeated Elizabethtown and Middlebury to earn its berth in the Elite Eight. JHU would lose a heartbreaker, 5-4, to eventual national champion Emory in the quarterfinals. Hopkins finished the season with a 19-5 record with Hersh, Brown and seniors Warren Elgort and Jacob Barnaby all earning All-America honors. Barnaby and Elgort made a stunning run to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship before fallling in three sets.
In 2011, the men won their fifth consecutive and sixth overall Centennial Conference title, advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and went 19-4 on the season. The Blue Jays went undefeated in conference play for the fifth straight season and improved Willenborg's record in CC play to 58-2 (.967). In addition, senior Andrew Wang and doubles pair Jacob Barnaby and Casey Blythe were selected to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship. Each went on to earn ITA All-America honors.
In 2010, the men's team won a school-record 21 matches en route to the Centennial Conference title and the NCAA Sweet 16. The Blue Jays hosted an NCAA Regional that season for the first time in program history. Senior David Maldow was selected to the NCAA Singles Championship for the fourth straight year and was named an ITA All-American as well as the Atlantic South Senior Player of the Year. He and junior Andrew Wang were also selected for the NCAA Doubles Championship.
The men rolled to the Centennial Conference title in 2009, going unbeaten in conference play, and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 before dropping a tough 6-3 decision to eventual NCAA Runner-up Amherst. In addition to the team's success, All-Americans Maldow and Wang were selected for both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship. Maldow advanced to the round of 16, while Wang advanced to the quarterfinals in the singles draw. In the doubles, the Maldow and Wang dropped a tough two-set match to the top seed. Maldow finished the season ranked 10th in the nation, while Wang was ranked 16th. In doubles, the pair finished ninth in the nation.
In 2008, Hopkins repeated as Centennial Champions after going 9-0 in the league. The Blue Jays then made their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the second round and finishing the season at 15-6 and Maldow finished the season as the ninth-ranked singles player in the nation. Senior Joe Vasoontara and freshman Casey Blythe, the first doubles pair in program history to advance to the NCAA Doubles Championship, were ranked 16th in the nation.
The 2007 season was the most successful in school history, as the men won their second Centennial Conference title with an undefeated record of 8-0. The Blue Jays won a school-record 15 consecutive matches, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAAs and finished with a 19-3 record. Hopkins finished the season ranked 11th nationally and second in the region.
In his first season, Willenborg guided the men's team to its first-ever Centennial Conference title and a 13-2 record in 2005 before upgrading the schedule in 2006 to better position the Blue Jays for a chance at a selection to the NCAA Tournament. He guided Vasoontara to the 2005 Centennial Conference singles title.
The men's team spent the entire 2006 season ranked among the top 10 teams in the region and entered the Centennial Conference Championships as the number three seed and ranked eighth in the region. A 4-3 upset of second-seeded (and number seven regionally-ranked) Haverford landed the Blue Jays in the Centennial title match and likely secured their at-large berth to the NCAAs. Hopkins, in its first-ever trip to the NCAA Championships, fell in the first round to seventh-ranked Mary Washington.
The 2010 season, his last as the head coach of the women's team, made it four in a row for the Blue Jay women as Willenborg guided the team to its fourth straight Centennial Conference title, fourth straight unbeaten conference slate and fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Hopkins advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season before dropping a tough 5-2 decision at fifth-seeded Dension and finishing the season at 17-9. Sophomore Carolyn Warren and freshman Nandita Krishnan were selected to the NCAA Singles Championship, while Warren played in the NCAA Doubles Championship with senior Anita Bhamidipati. Warren went on to earn All-America honors in both singles and doubles, while Bhamidipati picked up All-America honors in doubles.
Willenborg brings outstanding amateur, collegiate and professional experience to Hopkins. His amateur career was highlighted by a USTA National Clay Court Championship and a top-5 national junior ranking. He was selected to the prestigious Junior Davis squad and competed at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
In 1982 Willenborg accepted a full scholarship to UCLA, where he helped the Bruins win ITA National Indoor and NCAA Championships in 1984. He completed his college career at the University of Miami as a top-25 singles player.
In 1989 Willenborg joined the staff at Miami, where he served as an assistant men's coach for six seasons. During that time, Miami was consistently a top-10 team and Willenborg coached two top-ranked singles players. In 1996, he took the position as assistant tennis coach at Pepperdine University, where he won two consecutive West Coast Conference Championships and was promoted to interim head coach for the 1997 season. The team completed the season with a 22-7 record, including a win over top-ranked UCLA in the season-finale, and a top-10 national ranking.
Willenborg also served as the assistant men's and women's coach at perennial Division II power Barry University. The men's team was an NCAA finalist both seasons of his stay, while the women earned their first ever Sunshine State Conference Championship and a third-place finish - their highest ever - at the NCAA Championships.
A 1987 graduate of Miami with a degree in physical education, Willenborg earned a master's in sports management from the U.S. Sports Academy in 1997 and a master's in computer science from Barry in 2000. He resides in Fork, Maryland, with his wife Amity and children Russell, Madeline and Asher.
|Willenborg Year by Year|
|2005-06||11-9 (6-2)||Runner-up||1st Round|
|2006-07||19-3 (8-0)||Champions||Sweet 16|
|2007-08||15-6 (9-0)||Champions||2nd Round|
|2008-09||16-4 (9-0)||Champions||Sweet 16|
|2009-10||21-6 (9-0)||Champions||Sweet 16|
|2010-11||19-4 (9-0)||Champions||Sweet 16|
|2011-12 *||19-5 (9-0)||Champions||Quarterfinals|
|2012-13||20-3 (9-0)||Champions||Sweet 16|
|* Director of Tennis|
Updated July 2016