July 28, 2006
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Notre Dame men’s tennis associate head coach Todd Doebler – the ITA Midwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year in both 2004 and ’06 – has tendered his resignation in order to be hired as the new head men’s tennis coach at Penn State University. Doebler spent four seasons on the Irish staff, helping Notre Dame go from missing the NCAA tournament in 2003 to reaching the round of 16 and finishing 2005-06 with a 19-9 record and ranked 17th nationally. He is the fifth Notre Dame assistant coach – across all sports – to be hired as a head coach this year, as well as the ninth in the past 16 months.
Yesterday Penn State director of athletics Tim Curley announced the selection of Doebler, a native of the Philadelphia suburb of Hatfield who was a standout player at both North Penn High Schol and Bloomsburg University, which lies just 90 miles to the east of University Park. The 12th head coach since the inception of the Nittany Lions program in 1911, he replaces interim head coach Bill Potoczny, who finished the 2005-06 season after Jan Bortner ended his 16-year tenure leading the program last September upon being promoted to assistant athletic director.
“I am really excited for Todd to get the opportunity to go to Penn State and continue the successful path he has had,” said Irish head coach Bob Bayliss – who has now seen four of his assistants go on to be hired as head coaches. “While we are happy for him, we will miss him tremendously. Todd brought great energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to our program the last four years. I feel this year’s team may be the best we have had in a long time and is destined for top-10 status, I want to make sure that Todd gets his share of the credit for that, because he was involved in the recruiting and individual workouts with each of our players. We wish him nothing but the best. Penn State has made a great decision and will only add to its excellent legacy of successful athletic programs.”
“These past four years have been an amazing experience, being a part of the Notre Dame family,” said Doebler. “I will cherish my friendships, experiences, and memories forever, but I am very excited for this challenge. I would especially like to thank Coach Bayliss for having such a positive impact on me both personally and professionally during my time at Notre Dame.”
Doebler will take over a Penn State program that was 19-8 last season and finished 43rd in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings and first in the ITA Northeast Region listing. The Nittany Lions went 5-5 in the Big Ten Conference to tie for fifth place during the regular season and then reached the tournament semifinals, their best result since 1993. PSU then earned just its third invitation to the NCAA Championship since the current format was adopted in 1977 – the first since back-to-back appearances in 1997 and ’98.
“I am extremely excited about being named the new head men’s tennis coach at Penn State University,” said Doebler. “I am a native Pennsylvanian, which makes it that much more special to able to join the ‘Penn State family.’ My special thanks goes out to Coach Bortner and Tim Curley for giving me this amazing opportunity. My goal is to build off the recent success of the program and to develop Penn State tennis into a top-25 program and one that continues to live up to the standards of excellence expected by this university and community.”
Penn State is one of just three Big Ten schools that did not face Notre Dame in 2005-06. In fact, the Irish and Nittany Lions have met just twice all-time in men’s tennis, with the squads playing to a 3-3 draw in 1925 and Penn State prevailing 5-4 in 1988, Bayliss’ first season at Notre Dame.
The first associate head coach in program history, Doebler continues a trend of Notre Dame assistants in all sports landing head-coaching assignments, as he is the 14th to do so over the past four years, as well as the ninth in the last 16 months. Other recent Irish assistants who have been hired as head coaches were Michelle Dasso (women’s tennis, Illinois), Robin Davis (volleyball, Boise State), Brian Wiese (men’s soccer, Georgetown), Zoltan Dudas (fencing, Princeton), David Grewe (baseball, Michigan State), Pam Mork (women’s rowing, Cincinnati), Carrie Nixon (women’s swimming and diving, Notre Dame), Carol Owens (women’s basketball, Northern Illinois), Alvin Alexander (women’s soccer, Xavier), Brian O’Connor (baseball, Virginia), Anthony Solomon (basketball, St. Bonaventure), Billy Pate (men’s tennis, Alabama), and Kevin McGuff (women’s basketball, Xavier). In addition to Doebler and Pate, Bayliss has had two other assistants go on to be head coaches: Brian Kalbas (ND from 1989-92 then head women’s coach at William & Mary before taking the same position at North Carolina) and Mike Morgan (ND from 1997-2000 then head coach at Claremont McKenna/Harvey Mudd/Scripps Colleges in California before taking the same position at Colby College in Maine).
Doebler helped Notre Dame to a 62-38 (.620) record during his time as an assistant, which featured a pair of BIG EAST Conference championships and three trips to the NCAA tournament. He was recently named the top assistant coach in the region for the second time in three years after helping the Irish to a strong 2005-06 season in which they cracked the national top 15 for the first time since 2002. Notre Dame suffered a series of difficult early losses – dropping three 4-3 affairs to teams that finished ranked in the top 15 in a span of 10 days – but then rattled off 11 consecutive victories (its longest winning streak since 1990) and advanced to the final of the prestigious Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. The Irish also went unbeaten at home for the first time in 32 years (since 1973-74) and qualified a team in the NCAA Doubles Championship for the first time since 2002 and a pair in the NCAA singles tourney for the first time since 1995. One of those players, Sheeva Parbhu (Omaha, Neb./Millard North H.S.) became the first Irish player since 1959 to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA singles event and was named an ITA All-American. He and Stephen Bass (Bronxville, N.Y./Iona Preparatory School) both finished among the top 30 singles players in the ITA rankings, making Notre Dame one of only five schools to have multiple competitors in that group.
Notre Dame also had a breakthrough fall campaign that Doebler was a key part of. The Irish advanced two players to the singles final of the ITA Midwest Championships for the first time ever, returned to the singles main draw of the ITA All-American Championships, and were one of just two schools with multiple players among the final 16 in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. Doebler handled the lion’s share of on-court coaching in all three instances.
Doebler came to Notre Dame with a proven record of success. He spent the previous two seasons at Pepperdine University, helping the Waves compile a 43-14 (.754) mark. In 2001, Pepperdine won the West Coast Conference title, advanced to the NCAA round of 16 and finished 18th in the nation. The following year, the Waves were 25-6, reached the NCAA quarterfinals, and finished with a #5 national ranking. Doebler coached three All-Americans at Pepperdine, including Al Garland, who was ranked #1 in the nation for a time in 2002.
Prior to that, Doebler served as head coach for men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s squash at Connecticut College from 1998-2000. His coaching career began at Trinity (Conn.) College, where he was an assistant from 1997-98, aiding the head coach in all aspects of one of the top-ranked Division III. He also was an assistant coach of World Team Tennis’ Hartford Foxforce in the summer of 2000 and has a wealth of experience coaching at the camp and club levels. Upon graduation from college, Doebler was an assistant tennis professional at Farmington Field Club (Conn.) in the summers of 1997 and ’98 while pursuing graduate work. He had previously held the same position at the Lehigh Country Club (Pa.) in the summers of ’93 and ’94. He has been an assistant camp director at summer camps at Pepperdine, Notre Dame, Bloomsburg, and Williams College
Bloomsburg was a top-20 team in Division II during Doebler’s playing years. He won Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference doubles and team championships in 1994 and `95 and also was the conference singles champion in `95. Doebler earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1996 and went on to earn a master’s degree in the same field from the University of Hartford in 1998.