Rick Wood Hired as Head Men's Tennis Coach at Willamette

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Rick Wood has been hired as the head men's tennis coach at Willamette University. He will be in charge of all aspects of the WU men's tennis program. Wood is a graduate of Willamette, who received a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Economics in 1992.

Wood is familiar with the Salem area, not only from his time at Willamette, but also as the director of tennis at Illahe Hills Country Club from 2001 through 2012.  In addition, he was the head professional and junior director at Salem Swim and Tennis in 1990 and 1991. He was the girls' varsity head coach at nearby Sprague High School in Salem from 1992-97. He has additional experience as a tennis professional and assistant professional at country clubs in Virginia.

"Over the last 23 years, I have had the opportunity to coach all ages and levels, but I have never coached at the collegiate level specifically. When the position at Willamette became open, this seemed to be a perfect opportunity to return to my alma mater and pay it forward by coaching student-athletes that have passion for the game."

"I am excited to welcome Rick back to our Bearcat tennis program, Director of Athletics David Rigsby said. "His commitment to our student-athletes will help us continue building an outstanding program, both on- and off-the-court."

While attending Willamette, Wood competed at the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., all four years. He was the NAIA District II Player of the Year in 1991. In USTA tennis, he competed at the national level in singles in 1991, 1994 and 1998. He reached the USTA nationals in mixed doubles in 1996 and 2005.

"When I played at Willamette, I was fortunate to play on some outstanding teams," Wood commented. "Some of the guys became my best friends and we still keep in contact. My top memories are of Coach Russ Beaton, who was my mentor. I deeply respect his commitment to the team for so many years. Other memories are the times traveling with my teammates, spring break trips to Hawaii and California, and playing in Kansas City for NAIA Nationals."

He has significant experience coaching men's and women's adult United States Tennis Association (USTA) teams at all levels, including high school and college players. As the director of tennis at Illahe Hills CC he also taught private, semi-private and group lessons.

"I am a straight forward teacher/coach and encourage my players to improve their game daily," Wood said. "My philosophy is 'How you practice is how you play'. I believe this starts with defining each player’s ability and then helping them build on their strengths and eliminate any weaknesses in their game. Everyone learns differently, and I feel my playing and teaching experience allows me to connect with any level of player.

Wood and his wife Stephanie live in the Salem area. They have two children, Sydney, age 6, and Madden, age 2.