TAMPA - The University of South Florida has named Matt Hill its new head men's tennis coach, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard announced on Tuesday. Hill comes to USF after an extremely successful five-year run as assistant coach with the nationally-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.
"This is a great day for the USF men's tennis program," Woolard stated. "We had the opportunity to meet with several of the top head and assistant coaches around the country and Matt Hill continued to stand out. He's universally regarded as one of, if not, the top national and international recruiters in the country by his peers, which is matched by his ability to teach and relate with today's top tennis players. Matt is a tireless worker whose attention to student-athlete welfare, academics and player development falls directly in line with our core goals. He was a major part of both Alabama and Mississippi State's success during his involvement and we believe he can lead USF to that same level of success."
During Hill's five years at Mississippi State, he helped the Bulldogs improve from a No. 58 ranking in 2008 and a No. 72 ranking in '09 to top 20 finishes the last two seasons, including a No. 11 final ranking in 2012. Hill landed and mentored some of the top young talent in the collegiate ranks, helping Mississippi State finish the 2011 season as one of only six schools nationally with four players ranked in the top 100. The Bulldogs bettered that mark in 2012, finishing as one of only five schools nationally with five singles players ranked in the top 100.
"USF is getting one of the most exciting coaches around," said Mississippi State head coach Per Nilsson. "He's young but he knows more tennis than probably 90 percent of the people out there. He's the complete package as far as recruiting, developing players and is just an all-around good person. He's got one of the best reputations according to the other coaches across the country and they've only seen part of what he's done. I hate seeing him leave and I love what he's done for us, but I'm happy he is being rewarded with a great job at South Florida."
Mississippi State's No. 11 final ranking in 2012 was the program's best finish since 1998. The Bulldogs posted the program's best record (20-7) since that same 1998 squad went 21-5. State went 9-2 in the powerful Southeastern Conference, finishing third in the league, and successfully defending the SEC Western Division title. The Bulldogs defeated 14 teams ranked in the top 50 and seven in the top 25 en route to earning an NCAA bid. In addition, two of Hill's top pupils earned Capital One Academic All-America honors with a third being tabbed Academic All-District, while the men's tennis team led all Bulldog men's teams in GPA last spring.
State earned a No. 20 final ranking in 2011 after producing a 14-9 record, while winning the SEC Western Division title with an 8-3 mark. Hill was instrumental in helping five Bulldogs to All-SEC honors, while supporting Nilsson to SEC Coach of the Year honors. He was recognized for his efforts by being named ITA Southern Region Assistant Coach of the Year and SEC Assistant Coach of the Year.
Prior to joining the Bulldogs' staff, Hill served as a volunteer assistant coach at Alabama for two seasons. He helped the Crimson Tide improve from a No. 56 final ranking the season before he arrived to a No. 14 ranking in 2007, his second year with the program. Hill helped Alabama reach two NCAA Tournaments during his stint, including a trip to the round of 16 in '07. While at Alabama, Tide head coach Billy Pate said of Hill, 'He's going to be a great college coach one day and we're thrilled to have him and he means a lot to our program. Even though he's in a volunteer role he spends as much time on the court as Lee [asst. coach] and I do. He just really brings a lot. His services are invaluable.'
A native of Holt, Mich., Hill earned a degree in business marketing with a specialization in professional tennis management from Ferris State University in 2005 and a master's degree in human performance from Alabama in '07. Also a member of the tennis team while at Ferris State, Hill helped lead the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals for the first time in school history. However, Hill was thankful just to have had the opportunity to play collegiate tennis. Prior to entering college, he was diagnosed with cancer that eventually led to him having to have a full knee replacement. But, Hill fought back from the surgery to follow his dreams of competing collegiately.
Adding to his credentials, Hill is a member of the USTA High Performance Coaching Program, and has coached the Zonals National Team for the Southern Section during the summer. Hill is a Level I USPTA Professional with a Specialization in Competitive Player Development. He currently serves on the board for the USTA Collegiate Team Committee to help increase tennis across all college campuses in the South.