Hayden Schilling, the head men's tennis coach at The College of Wooster since 1980, recently elected to step down from that position, closing not only a career that will be recalled for its longevity, but as a very successful one – 450-plus wins, four North Coast Athletic Conference championships, and three appearances at the NCAA Div. III Championships as a team and numerous others individually in singles and doubles.
Schilling, who labeled the decision as one with "really mixed emotions," remains at the College as the Robert Critchfield Professor of English History.
"Words are inadequate to express my appreciation for all that Hayden has done for our tennis program," stated Keith Beckett, Wooster's director of athletics. "His leadership and coaching yielded championships and representation at NCAA's. He mentored hundreds and hundreds of student-athletes, and created an environment that epitomized the Div. III philosophy … appropriate prioritization of academics and athletics. In the truest sense, he was a cornerstone of the program and a pillar of tradition within the department. I wish him the very best as he moves from the lead coach on the court to the lead fan in the stands."
The longest tenured coach ever at Wooster, Schilling headed the men's tennis program for 34 seasons. While the team produced winning records in 23 of those, several years during the 1980s and 1990s stick out as highlights. The Fighting Scots were conference champs in 1985, 1989, 1990, and 1996, and narrowly missed adding more trophies via six second-place finishes (1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2004).
In fact, during the 17-season stretch from 1983-99, Wooster won about two-thirds of its matches (271-140; .659) and finished in the national rankings (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) eight times, including as high as No. 12 in 1994. Schilling collected four NCAC Coach-of-the-Year honors then (1985, 1990, 1991, 1996) and added a fifth in 2004.
"(Those) teams I had were as good as any team around," Schilling confirmed. "I've had tremendous leaders over the years. All-Americans like John Morlidge '84, Bob Savitt '85, Steve Kuri '90, Anthony Fernandez '92, and Warren Cham-A-Koon '95 … and others such as Paul Wardlaw '81, Doug Hart '86, Jake Sintich '02, and Pat Grab '09 were all guys who had a lot of success."
While the awards, championships, rankings, and wins – a final mark of 451-315 (.589) – are noteworthy, Schilling most values the relationships he formed with so many student-athletes. "I have very fond memories of the whole thing. I hear from older players all the time, and some are my (closest) friends."
Active in the tennis community, Schilling is on the executive board of the Ohio Tennis Coaches' Association, was awarded for his 30-year service as a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association, and worked on NCAA ranking and selection committees, while being a long-time member of the ITA and the USTA. Additionally, Schilling founded the Wooster Tennis Camp, now run by his son David Schilling.
A national search for his replacement is underway.
The winning tradition that was built, now paired with the January 2012 opening of the Scot Center – a $30 million recreational facility that includes four indoor courts – and the resurfacing of the outdoor courts this summer, has the men's tennis program positioned for a very bright future, as Schilling said "Wooster is the perfect place to have a first-rate tennis team."