Darin Phelan Named Assistant Men’s Tennis Coac
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Former Razorback and volunteer assistant Darin Phelan has been hired as an assistant coach to Arkansas men’s tennis coach Robert Cox, it was announced on Thursday.
“We are very happy and excited about Darin joining our program in this new capacity,” Cox says. “Being a former Razorback and a volunteer assistant for the past two years, Darin and I are familiar with each other and he is familiar with the program and the things that we are trying to accomplish. He has a solid playing and coaching background and will be a big asset to our program. Although he has big shoes to fill with the departure of Justin McGrath, we feel that Darin is very capable and knowledgeable enough to fill those shoes. We are very lucky to have a young man like Darin to be part of our program.”
McGrath, UA’s former assistant, was named head coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette earlier Thursday.
Phelan, 27, has spent the last two years working with Arkansas Athletes Outreach (AAO) and serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the Razorbacks. While with AAO, Phelan was the men’s campus director, working with the men’s golf, tennis and baseball teams. He was responsible for the personal development programs and the community outreach projects.
His responsibilities in his new position include on-court instruction during practices and competition, coordinating travel arrangements, and traveling with individual players to tournaments in the fall and with the team in the spring.
During his two years as a volunteer assistant, Phelan helped Arkansas to No. 24 final national rankings and appearances in an NCAA Tournament regional final each season. UA was 16-10 in 2000 and 15-10 in 2001.
Phelan was recruited by both former baseball coach Norm DeBriyn and Cox. He chose to play for Cox and the Razorback tennis program from 1995-98. During his playing days he played anywhere from the number six to three position in singles and one to three in doubles. He recorded 49 singles wins and 48 doubles wins during his career. Phelan also holds the record for the most three-set matches played in a season. His greatest weapon was his serve as he had a serve clocked at 134 miles per hour. During his senior year he was elected captain of the squad. Two of the teams that he played on made it to the NCAA regional finals. He cites his greatest playing memory as having a win over TCU – a top 15 team – clinched on his racket.
The Fayetteville native has called the area home his entire life and says he always wanted to be a Razorback.
“There is no other place that I’d rather be than coaching tennis at the University of Arkansas,” Phelan says. “I see it as a great accomplishment to work for your former coach. It shows the great amount of respect I have for him and he has for me.
“I have big shoes to fill. Justin McGrath did a great job while he was here. I’m really excited to be here. The biggest thing I feel I bring to the program is a passion for Arkansas tennis. There is no one else other than Coach Cox that I feel has the desire to see Arkansas tennis succeed more than I do. This is a dream come true for me. One of my goals is to help Coach Cox keep Arkansas in the national spotlight and put the Razorbacks in the top 10.”
Phelan’s greatest coaching accomplishment to date has been taking Oskar Johansson to the ITA National Indoor Finals.
Phelan’s wife of three years, Jessica, was the first All-American in volleyball at Arkansas and she trained with the U.S. Olympic Team, making its second squad. She also is the first Arkansas recipient of the Boyd McWhorter post-graduate scholarship.
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