He coached All-Americans and both of Dick Vitale’s daughters, and a couple of times even flirted with a team national title.
And sometime this summer, it will all become a memory. A vivid one and an impactful one at that, as Notre Dame women’s tennis coach Jay Louderback heads into retirement after 29 seasons.
“I didn’t realize when (then-athletic director) Dick Rosenthal hired me in 1989 it would be such a life-changing experience,” Louderback said Thursday in a statement.
For Notre Dame as well.
Louderback took over a program with four years competing at the Division I level and zero postseason appearances, and turned the Irish into regulars in the NCAA Tournament. Their 24 NCAA berths include a run of 22 straight (1996-2017).
Along the way he amassed 748 victories and 19 conference titles.
“For nearly three decades Jay Louderback has fielded great teams, helped to shape the lives of his students and represented the university with great skill and grace,” Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. “His impact has been enormous, and so too will be the loss we will feel in his absence.”
The university will begin a national search for the program’s sixth head coach.
Louderback was the 2006 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Coach of the Year, the ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year four times, and a conference coach of the year 14 times.
He coached 13 All-Americans who accounted for 28 All-America honors. That included Michelle Dasso, the program’s first four-time All-American, in the early 2000s.
He also coached his daughter, Bailey, who played for the Irish from 2004-08, and Sherri and Terri Vitale in the 1990s.
“To quote Lou Gehrig, ‘Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,’” Louderback said. “I am retiring after 29 years at Notre Dame to spend more time with my wife, Denise, and our family.”
The high point of Louderback’s run with the Irish was back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tourney semis in 2009 and 2010.
A native of Arkansas City, Kan., Louderback graduated from Wichita State in 1976 with a degree in business administration.
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