FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas tennis program is hosting its bi-annual alumni reunion this weekend, and in one of the highlights of this year’s event, the athletic department is honoring former head coach Tom Pucci for his contributions to the program.
Pucci was UA’s head coach from 1976-84. He compiled a 218-60 dual match record. Following a 12-14 season his first year, Arkansas won 24 or more matches each of the following eight seasons. From 1979-84, the Razorbacks earned top 10 final national rankings from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Arkansas was 26-4 and No. 9 in 1979, 31-4 and No. 7 in ’80, 26-4 and No. 6 in ’81, 24-8 and No. 10 in ’82, 24-9 and No. 7 in ’83, and 27-7 and No. 9 in ’84.
His teams won Southwest Conference titles in 1980, 1981 and 1984. He coached Peter Doohan and Pat Serret to the 1982 NCAA doubles national championship, and helped Doohan, Serret, Ron Hightower, Chip Hooper and Kelly Evernden earn All-America honors.
“He was here only nine years, but he’s the one that really brought the Arkansas tennis program to a national level,” UA head coach Robert Cox says. “Coach (Frank) Broyles put him in charge of building a tennis power, and Pucci took the ball and ran with it.”
Cox played for Pucci in 1978 and ’79.
“All of us who played for him owe a lot to him,” he says. “He was a great disciplinarian and motivator. His record was unbelievable in coaching both teams and individuals.”
The reunion, which has attracted more than 100 former Razorback tennis players in the past, is expected to draw 35-40 former players this year. Following a reception on Friday, the former players will square off against each other from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center. A short program is scheduled at noon, and then 12 former players will face the current Razorbacks in six doubles matches.