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Courtesy: Arkansas
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Cox to step down after 26 seasons

05/13/2013
Kevin Trainor, Athletic Public Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE - Longtime Arkansas head men's tennis coach Robert Cox will step down from his coaching position at the completion of the current season he announced on Monday. Cox is finishing his 26th season as the head coach of the men's tennis program and has won more dual matches (323) than any tennis coach in Razorback history. In fact, Cox has guided the Razorbacks to more than 42 percent of the program's win total (762). Cox first came to the University of Arkansas as a student-athlete, playing on the 1977 and 1978 men's tennis teams.

Following the season, Cox will assume a position within the athletic department's administration working with the facilities and event management divisions. The Razorbacks' doubles team of Manfred Jeske and Mike Nott qualified for the doubles draw of the NCAA Tournament and will compete beginning on May 22 in Urbana, Ill. Arkansas won 16 dual matches in 2013, the program's highest single-season win total since 2006, including five victories over ranked opponents. 

"I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to lead the men's tennis program at the University of Arkansas for the past 26 seasons," Cox said. "In that time, I have been blessed to be a part of more than 320 wins, multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and some extraordinary on-court accomplishments. However, I am most proud of the outstanding young men who have been a part our program and all they have accomplished as Razorback student-athletes by earning their college degrees and proudly representing the University of Arkansas and our entire state.

"I appreciate the tremendous support our program has enjoyed throughout my tenure at the University of Arkansas starting with Coach Frank Broyles and Jeff Long and extending to the entire Razorback Family. I look forward to continuing to serve this great University now in a new role as a part of the athletic department's administrative team." 

In his 26 years, he led Arkansas to nine NCAA Tournament appearances as a team, six regional finals and one Round of 16 appearance. He had 15 seasons with 12 or more victories, 11 teams ranked among the top 35 in the nation and produced 13 All-Americans.

In addition to the All-America selections, Cox had 23 All-SEC selections, seven SWC champions, two ITA national champions, two ITA No. 1-ranked singles players and one ITA No. 1-ranked doubles team.

His teams also were impressive in the classroom. Nearly every one of his student-athletes who completed their athletic eligibility earned their college diploma during his coaching tenure. In 2012, the Razorbacks became the first team in program history to be named to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's All-Academic List. The squad also became the first men's sport at Arkansas to garner a public recognition award for its perfect 1,000 multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR). In 2009, Blake Strode was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Strode was also a recipient of the Bodenhamer Fellowship at the University of Arkansas and was an NCAA singles semifinalist in 2009.

"For the past 26 years, Robert Cox has been one of the most respected tennis coaches in the country and the cornerstone of the success of our men's tennis program," Long said. "His 323 victories and countless accomplishments speak for themselves. However, it is his positive influence on the lives of student-athletes that has set him apart. The impact of his leadership can be demonstrated in the remarkable graduation rate of his student-athletes all while competing in the most competitive athletic conferences in the nation. Robert has been and continues to be a great ambassador for the Razorback program and the University of Arkansas. I am pleased that he will remain a part of our department in his new role." 

Under Cox, the Razorbacks were ranked in the nation's top 30 at some point during every season from 1990-2007 with the exception of the 2000 season. Arkansas finished with final national rankings of No. 18 in 1988, No. 19 in '89, No. 17 in '92, No. 22 in '93, No. 27 in '94, No. 35 in '95, No. 34 in '98, No. 25 in 2001, No. 24 in '02, No. 39 in '03, No. 24 in '04 and No. 22 in '06.

Under Cox's guidance, Oskar Johansson became the most recent Arkansas player to capture a national title and earn a No. 1 ranking in 2001. 

Cox also guided Tim Crichton and Tom Hamilton to the National Clay Court Doubles title and automatic berth in the NCAA Championship in 1996. Also in 1996, the partners held the nation's top doubles ranking for most of the season and became the first Razorback pair to secure the top spot since Peter Doohan and Pat Serret won the NCAA doubles championship in 1982.

Crichton and Hamilton reached the finals of the National Clay Court Championship again in 1997. For their efforts, Crichton and Hamilton earned both All-America and All-SEC honors in 1997 and 1998. Cox also coached Adrians Zguns in the Round of 16 at the NCAA Championship, and to All-America honors and a No. 18 final ranking in 2006.

Cox came to Arkansas after a successful stint as the head tennis coach for both the men's and women's squad at Tyler Junior College. Taking the reins of the UA program in 1988, Cox turned around a team that had gone 9-16 the year before and won the Southwest Conference championship with an 18-6 record. He was the 1988 ITA Region VI Coach of the Year. Cox followed with a second SWC title in 1989, guiding the Hogs to a 19-8 finish.

In 2004, Cox was named the ITA Central Region Coach of the Year for leading the Razorbacks to a 16-10 finish, a No. 24 final ranking and into the NCAA Tournament's Round of 16 for the first time since 1986. He also became UA's all-time victories leader with a 6-1 victory at Hawaii on March 12. The win was his 219th at Arkansas and moved him past Tom Pucci, Cox's coach at Arkansas, who had 218 wins from 1976-84. 

In 2006, Cox was named ITA Central Region Coach of the Year after he led the Hogs to the regional finals and 18 victories, the most by a UA squad since 1989. Arkansas won the ITA Central Region Team Championship and advanced to the ITA National Indoor Championship. Cox earned his 350th career win on April 7, 2006 at Auburn. The Razorbacks finished with a No. 22 national ranking.

In 2007, a group of former Razorbacks came together for a ceremony to rename center court at the newly christened and renovated George M. Billingsley Tennis Center in Cox's honor. 

Cox began his collegiate playing career at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, earning All-America honors in doubles for legendary junior college coach Fred Kniffen. While Cox was a regular in the singles lineup, he and Apache partner Ray Anders reached the finals of the National Junior College doubles championships in 1976, earning All-America honors. Cox transferred to Arkansas after his sophomore season, and as a player for the Razorbacks in 1977 and 1978, he was a part of squads that produced a 48-10 record under Pucci.

After earning a business administration degree in the fall of 1978, the Palestine, Texas, native spent a year as the head pro at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler. Cox then left Tyler to travel the ATP tennis circuit, playing in Europe. Cox earned a No. 6 ranking in 1979 among Texas men and has more than 70 tournament victories to his credit. The high point of Cox's on-court career came when he competed in the 1980 U.S. Open mixed doubles qualifying tournament.

Cox has a master's degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Tyler. He is married to the former Meredith Rooney of Little Rock. His daughter, Afton, is a 2004 graduate of the University of Arkansas and received her master's degree in education in 2005. She is currently teaching at Southwest Junior High in Springdale.


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