PEORIA, Ill. – Tim Gray, who boasts 21 years of collegiate head coaching experience, has been named the 17th head coach in Bradley men’s tennis history, according to an announcement Tuesday from Braves Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Cross.
During his career coaching both collegiate men and women, Gray boasts a NCAA Division III national championship, a NCAA Division III national runner-up finish, four NCAA Regional titles, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and seven outright or divisional conference championships.
“Tim Gray has led successful men’s and women’s tennis programs throughout his career and his success is not accidental,” said Cross. “He has a very positive outlook to go with high energy, tennis acumen and strong communication skills. He is a veteran coach who will bring the commitment our student-athletes expect and will work diligently to expand a long tradition of high-quality tennis student-athletes at Bradley.”
“I want to thank Dr. Cross and President (Joanne) Glasser for the opportunity to coach at a great institution like Bradley University,” said Gray. “I am excited about the opportunity and I look forward to getting started as soon as possible.”
In his most recent coaching position, from 2005-11 Gray served as the women’s tennis head coach at Auburn, where he led the Tigers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2007-08-09), end-of-season top 40 national rankings three times and the 2007 SEC Western Division title, which included a win against No. 1 Georgia.
In addition to his team’s success at Auburn, Gray coached three All-Americans while with the Tigers. Now an assistant at Auburn, Fani Chifchieva became the first women’s tennis All-American in Auburn history in 2007 and went on to become a three-time All-America selection. The 2008 SEC Player of the Year, Chifchieva advanced to the semifinals of the 2008 NCAA Individual Singles national championship tournament, as well as the finals of the 2008 ITA/Riviera National Tennis Championship. The doubles team of Alex Haney and Melissa Koning added All-America honors in 2008.
A 1986 graduate of Washington College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Gray immediately began his coaching career when he was named the men’s tennis head coach at Widener University in 1986.
Gray returned to his alma mater in 1990 and was elevated to head coach of the men’s tennis team in 1992 and the women’s program in 1993. Gray led the Shoremen to conference titles in each of his four years at the helm of the men’s program, adding the 1994 NCAA Division III national championship and a runner-up finish in the 1995 NCAA Tournament. Individually, Damian Polla won the 1995 NCAA Division III singles title, while Robin Sander claimed the 1994 ITA/Small College National Singles Championship and teamed with Miroslav Beran to win the 1994 ITA/Small College National Doubles Championship.
Gray, who was inducted into the Washington College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007, left his alma mater to become the men’s tennis head coach at Florida Southern in 1995 and led the powerhouse NCAA Division II program for seven seasons. During his tenure from 1995-2002, the Mocs made seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by a third-place finish in 1998, and won a pair of Sunshine State Conference crowns. Gray was selected the SSC Coach of the Year following FSC’s 2000 and 2002 championship seasons.
Gray broke into the NCAA Division I ranks in 2002 by taking over the Eastern Michigan women’s tennis program and he led the Eagles to the Mid-American Conference Tournament finals in each of his three seasons (2003-04-05) in Ypsilanti, Mich.
In his final season at Auburn, Gray also served as the ITA South Region Ranking Chair. In that role, he was responsible for administration of the regional championship tournament, as well as creation of the regional singles, doubles and team ranking lists and service on the ITA National Ranking Committee.
A native of Greenville, S.C., Gray is married to Christine Franek Gray and is the father of two sons, Brandon (22) and Taylor (21). In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Washington College, Gray earned his master’s degree in sport science in 2005 from the United States Sports Academy.
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