MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The sport of love will return to Freed-Hardeman University after more than a 10 year absence from campus.
Men's and women's tennis will return to the FHU's Athletic Department with the Spring 2018 semester. And, like all other collegiate tennis teams, FHU's wil compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA,) as one of 13 schools in the American Midwest Conference (AMC.)
Stark Davis, FHU criminal justice professor, will coach both teams. Before joining the faculty at FHU, Davis coached five seasons, 2012-16, at Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tennessee. His teams produced a 71-18, record while twice qualifying players for the state tournament.
The FHU athletic program had a tennis program before, the university offered the sport for nearly 60 years, from 1950 to 2007. During that time, the FHU tennis teams achieved unparalleled success, as the men's and women's teams combined for 15 Tennessee Collegiate Athletic Conference (TCAC) Championships, seven TranSouth Conference Championships and seven national tournament appearances, while producing 37 All-American players. In addition, several former tennis players have been inducted into FHU's Sports Hall of Fame.
Davis believes bringing tennis back to FHU will be good for students as well as the university.
"This is a great opportunity for students seeking a quality Christian university experience, who also have a love for tennis," he said. "Students will be able to pursue a great Christian education while developing as top level competitive tennis players."
Davis played five years as a junior player for the United States Tennis Association before enrolling in the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During his time at the Air Force Academy, Davis participated four years on the intercollegiate fencing team at USAFA, where he was the No. 2 sabre fencer his junior and senior seasons.
Davis said he hopes to use his own experiences as a player to help develop players at the college level.
"I have a passion for the game of tennis and enjoy the challenge of helping players find success in the arena of competition," Davis said. "My goal is to develop players to enter an environment of constant, determined improvement. It is truly a dream come true to coach at the college level here at FHU."
Mike McCutchen, FHU athletic director, said he is equally excited about the opportunities the tennis program will bring to the university.
"We are excited about bringing tennis back to FHU," said McCutchen. "We enjoyed tremendous success with the program in the past and look forward to building a program that is not only competitive, but also one that reinforces the values of the university, the American Midwest Conference and the NAIA. I believe Coach Davis will build a program that will make us all proud."
Davis will immediately begin preparations for the Spring 2018 season. If you would like more information about tennis program or would like to participate, contact the FHU Office of Intercollegiate Athletics at 731-989-6900.