Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
July 17, 2012Dennis Emery was going through the most cherished moments of his coaching career at Kentucky -- and he's got plenty after 30 years -- when he came to a stop. Eyes watering, he collected himself for 15 seconds before continuing.
'They told me don't do a press conference," Emery said, "because you're going to get emotional."
Emery held the press conference to announce his retirement as men's tennis head coach after 30 years and his move to special assistant to the athletic director.
"Three decades? Amazing," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. "Truly amazing what he has given to the University of Kentucky."
Emery, who took over as head coach in 1983 and compiled a 568-338 record, guided his players to both team and individual successes.
The Wildcats won their only two SEC regular-season championships (1992, 2012) under Emery, a three-time SEC Coach of the Year winner (1992, 1999, 2012). He led Kentucky to 23 NCAA Tournament appearances, including four quarterfinal finishes. Nineteen players have been named All-Americans under Emery, and three (Carlos Drada, 2000; Jesse Witten, 2002; Eric Quigley, 2012) advanced to the NCAA Tournament final in singles.
"It has flown by," Emery said. "Trust me when I tell you that I can remember the first match I coached here."
Emery's last year may have been his best.
Kentucky went undefeated in SEC regular-season play for the first time in program history in 2012. The Wildcats' 28-6 season was the second-most wins ever and the third-highest winning percentage in program history. Three players were named All-Americans.
Emery noted that he always wanted to retire on top -- "I never wanted to wonder if I was slipping," he said -- and to leave a good foundation for the program moving forward. Both criteria were met after this season, Emery said.
"It just felt like the stars lined up perfectly for me," Emery said.
Emery's new administrative role will involve fundraising, serving as an ambassador for the university and fostering relationships within the UK community. Barnhart noted Emery's previous success in similar roles: raising $1.8 million for an indoor tennis facility and developing an extensive network of connections in 30 years as head coach.
"It just came to my attention that Dennis has so many skills that have not been fully utilized," Barnhart said.
A search for a new coach will begin immediately. Current associate head coach Cedric Kauffman is a likely candidate.
Emery wasn't sure how long he will stay in his new role, but he emphasized his appreciation for his previous one.
"God has really blessed me over the last 30 years to do what I'm doing and to do it here," Emery said. "It's a very special place."