HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College has named Tom Simpson as its head men's and women's tennis coach, Dr. Lynn Griffin, vice president of athletics and athletic facilities announced today. Tom, who served as the Cobras head tennis coach from 2011 to 2014, takes over the program from his son, Bill. The father-son coaching swap is one of the most unique coaching changes in NCAA Division II history.
"We are excited to have Tom return to Coker," stated Griffin. "While it is difficult to see Bill leave Coker, we are fortunate that Tom was ready to return to the helm of the program. Tom is familiar with Coker and that is helpful when there is a coaching change."
Simpson returns to Coker after serving as the Director of Character Development and College Advisor at Bishops Gate Golf Academy.
"I want to thank Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Griffin for giving me the opportunity to return to Coker and to Hartsville as the head tennis coach," said Simpson. "I've had many great life experiences and coaching successes at Coker. I can't wait to get back on campus and get started."
As mentioned, Simpson was at the helm of the Cobras tennis program from 2011-2014. In 2012-13 six Cobras received all-conference honors under Simpson, four men and two women. Andre Staab, William Marrafao, James Corfield and Tom Sizeland were all-conference on the men's team, while Daniela Chipe and Jessi Campos were all-conference on the women's team. On the women's side, the Cobras advanced to the conference tournament for the third consecutive year.
Simpson was named Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year and the United States Professional Tennis Association Southern Division Coach of the Year for 2012-13. He led the Cobra men to the program's first-ever regular season conference championship, going a perfect 10-0 in conference play. They were 18-5 overall with their only losses to Division I opponents or nationally ranked DII teams. They were ranked as high as No. 6 in the Southeast Region and Andre Staab became the first-Coker player to be ranked nationally (No. 32) and regionally (No.12) by the ITA. Staab was also named Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year and ITA Rookie of the Year.
During the 2013-14 season, the Cobra men had another outstanding season. They finished the season 11-8 overall, but registered a 9-2 conference mark and came up just short of back-to-back regular season championships. Coker was ranked as high as No. 33 in the nation and No. 8 in the Southeast region.
The Cobras had four players land on all-conference teams in 2014. Leading the way were sophomores Andre Staab and Tom Sizeland, who were both first-team singles selections. Staab and partner James Corfield were tabbed first-team doubles selection, while William Marrafao was named an honorable mention singles selection.
Before joining the Coker athletics staff in 2011, Simpson came from the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., where he served as a pro, giving private and group lessons, as well as serving as the traveling coach for the tennis academy. He was also the Co-Director of the Academy's Housing of International and National Students.
Prior to his time at Smith Stearns, Simpson served as the head professional and tennis director at several tennis clubs in Columbia, S.C. and Hilton Head, including The Rockbridge Club, the Spring Valley Country Club, the Forest Lake Country Club and the Port Royal Racquet Club.
A very successful professional tennis instructor, coach and player, Simpson holds his United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) P1 certification and his United States Professional Tennis Registry (USPTR) certification.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Oakland University in Rochester Mich. where he competed in the NCAA Division II singles and doubles championships in 1979. He also holds a Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Columbia International University.