Matt Knoll has resigned as Baylor men’s tennis head coach after leading the program for the past 22 seasons. A 2008 Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Knoll was the Bears’ head coach since their first season of Big 12 Conference competition in 1997.
“After 22 years leading the Baylor tennis program, I’ve decided to step down to pursue a new challenge,” Knoll said. “Working with world class student-athletes, coaches and administrators has been the joy of my life. Winning Baylor’s first team national championship is something to treasure forever. I look forward to watching the tradition of excellence continue.”
“Matt Knoll built the Baylor men’s tennis program into a national power and led it to unprecedented success,” Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades said. “He was integral in creating the world-class facilities we now have on campus with both the Hurd Tennis Center and the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center, and we are grateful for his service. We are committed to ensuring the Baylor men’s tennis program continues to compete nationally at a championship level while upholding the standards of Preparing Champions for Life and the mission of Baylor University.”
Baylor finished the 2017-18 season with a 21-10 record, including 1-4 in Big 12 Conference play. BU’s streak of 14 consecutive seasons advancing to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 was snapped with a second round loss in 2016, and the Bears fell short again this season when they were eliminated in the second round by Texas A&M on Saturday.
From 1998 through 2015, Baylor went 105-13 in Big 12 Conference play and didn’t have more than two losses in any of those 18 seasons. The Bears have gone 4-11 in conference play since 2016, finishing 1-4 in both 2016 and 2018 and 2-3 in 2017.
Knoll amassed a 510-150 record as Baylor’s Director of Men’s Tennis. His teams captured 13 Big 12 Conference regular season titles, including eight consecutive from 2002 through 2009, and they added eight Big 12 Tournament championships.
Knoll brought Baylor University its first team national championship when he led the Bears to a 4-0 sweep of UCLA in the 2004 National Championship title match. He also guided BU to the 2005 National Team Indoor Championship and four additional runs to the NCAA semifinals, including a runner-up finish in 2005.
A three-time National Coach of the Year, Knoll was also honored as Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year six times. His teams finished seasons ranked top-four nationally six times and top-10 nationally in 13 of 22 years. Baylor joined UCLA as the nation’s only programs ranked top-10 in the final national rankings every year from 2002 through 2011.
Knoll’s teams advanced to the national semifinals in four consecutive seasons from 2004 through 2007, posting a combined 118-14 mark in that stretch.
Knoll took over as Baylor head coach on Aug. 1, 1996, following a season in which the Bears went 7-14 and did not win a conference match. It took only two seasons for Knoll to get BU into the NCAA Tournament after recording a 7-2 conference mark to finish as Big 12 runner-up in 1998.
Baylor made its first NCAA quarterfinals appearance in 1999 and returned to the quarterfinals in 2003 before breaking through with its first semifinals appearance in 2004 on its way to becoming NCAA champions. That sparked a run of nine consecutive NCAA quarterfinals appearances, including four trips to the semifinals and two times in the title match.
The Bears went 8-0 in league play to claim their first Big 12 title in 2000, starting a decade of dominance with nine Big 12 regular season championships and seven Big 12 Tournament titles from 2000 through 2009.
All told, Knoll compiled a 56-20 record in NCAA Championship play, including 19-2 in first round matches and 17-2 in second round action. His 510 career victories in 22 seasons were more than double the 202 total wins compiled in the program’s first 27 years prior to his arrival.
A nationwide search for the ninth head coach in Baylor men’s tennis program history will begin immediately.