Methodist Names Criscoe as Tennis Coach
Keith Criscoe of Methodist University is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, head coach in NCAA athletics.
This week the 2002 Union Pines graduate was named the head men's tennis coach at his college alma mater.
Criscoe, 22, graduated from Methodist last May with a degree in business administration with a concentration in professional tennis management. He takes over the Monarch tennis program from his former coach Eddie Luck, who resigned after taking the team to a Division III Conference USA South title in 2005 and a second-place finish in 2006.
"It's exciting to get a position like this at 22," said Criscoe, who was conference player of the year for the Monarchs in his junior and senior years. "I knew I was competing against some college coaches. Not many people get this opportunity at my age."
He won the state 2-A singles championship as a junior at Union Pines in 2001. As a senior, he was the Tri-County Conference Player of the Year and the Union Pines Male Athlete of the Year.
He was a four-time all-conference selection and finished his Viking career third on the all-time win list with a record of 172-22.
"To me, it's an unprecedented thing," said John Frye, his tennis coach at Union Pines. "I don't know of any young man hired as a head coach directly out of college. But I can't say I'm surprised because I know Keith.
"Keith has always been conscientious and comprehensive with everything he has done. He has a matchless work ethic."
Criscoe's older brother, Kevin, now the head tennis professional at the Pinehurst Resort, also had an outstanding career with the Vikings, compiling a seventh-best all-time Viking mark of 155-28.
"They are such quality young men," Frye says of the brothers, "whether on the tennis court, at school or in the community."
Keith Criscoe capped a distinguished college career by qualifying for the NCAA singles championships last May. He finished the season as the 28thranked singles player in Division III.
In addition to the conference player of the year honors, he was all-conference in singles and second team in doubles as a sophomore. His match record as a senior was 16-6 in singles and 17-2 with doubles partner Chris Fletcher.
"We are most pleased to add Keith Criscoe to our coaching staff as head men's tennis coach," Methodist Athletic Director Bob McEvoy said in a press release. "Keith was an outstanding student-athlete on our campus and will bring a high energy and enthusiasm to our men's tennis program."
The Monarchs begin the 2007 campaign on Feb. 3 with matches against Mt. Olive and Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C. A number of former teammates, including Fletcher, are still with the team.
"I'm excited to get started," Criscoe said after holding his first practices with the team this week. "I know what they're going through because I've been there myself. We have a couple of new athletes coming in to help out and I'm anxious to see what this season holds for us."
Methodist is one of only a handful of schools in the country that offers the professional tennis management program. Criscoe thinks that is something that should help recruiting, putting the program in a position to be successful at the national level.
"We've been pretty solid," he says of the Monarch program, "but I think we can compete at the national level.
"I made it to the NCAA championships in singles last year, now I'd like to see us make it as a team."
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