Feb. 8, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina head men’s tennis coach Kent DeMars announced today that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season. In his 37th season as a collegiate head coach, DeMars will leave the University after 26 seasons at the helm of a Gamecock program that he has led to 18 NCAA Tournaments and six conference championships. He has coached seven Gamecocks to a total of nine All-America selections, was the 1989 NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year and earned NCAA Region II Coach of the Year honors seven times.
“It is amazing how quickly time flies as this is my 26th season at the University of South Carolina,” DeMars said. “I am excited about the possibilities of my team this year to close out my career. I would like to thank the University for giving me the opportunity to coach here. It has been a wonderful journey.”
“Kent has been an icon for the University of South Carolina men’s tennis program for many years, fielding competitive teams that have excelled both on and off the court,” Eric Hyman, South Carolina director of athletics, said. “His career-long involvement in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association has spread his influence far beyond Columbia, as he is well known and highly respected throughout tennis circles both nationally and internationally. While he wraps up a Hall of Fame coaching career this spring, he will continue to be a valued member of the Gamecock family, and we wish him all the best.”
DeMars took the reins of the South Carolina program on June 11, 1984 after 11 seasons at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, where he turned the Cougars into an NCAA Division II perennial national power that won seven consecutive national championships. He entered the South Carolina scene with a similar splash, leading the team to its first of six Metro Conference championships in his inaugural season, which the team finished 24-5 and ranked No. 14 in the nation.
The 1987 season saw the Gamecocks return to the NCAA Tournament, the first of 18 appearances for South Carolina in DeMars’ first 25 seasons. Two years later he was named NCAA Division I Coach of the Year after the Gamecocks earned a spot in the NCAA Championship semifinals and closed the season ranked No. 5 in the country behind a 21-8 record.
In 1994, DeMars saw his Gamecocks return to the NCAA field after a two-year hiatus. The team’s regional semifinal appearance was the first in a string of 13 straight NCAA Tournament selections that included a regional final showing in 1997 and a berth in the Sweet 16 in 1998. The next season, South Carolina finished fourth in the SEC, its highest league finish to date.
DeMars entered the 2009-10 season with a 36-year career record of 595-349 (.630), including his 381-278 (.578) mark at South Carolina. He was inducted into the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996.
Among the coaches involved at the inception of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, DeMars has served on the ITA Men’s Operating Committee, the National/Regional Rankings Committee, the Collegiate Hall of Fame Committee and the NCAA Rules Committee. He earned the ITA Meritorious Service Award in 1986.
The Athletics Department is finalizing plans for a celebration of DeMars’ career toward the end of the Gamecocks’ 2009-10 campaign. Details of that event will be released at a later date.