Men’s Tennis: Coach Ian Duvenhage captures 200th Vanderbilt win

In his 16th season on West End, Vanderbilt men’s tennis coach Ian Duvenhage picked up his 200th win last weekend.

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Ian Duvenhage picked up his 200th win last weekend in Vanderbilt’s rout of Lipscomb. (Twitter/@VandyMTennis)

Jack Hollier and Nick Sutton

Amongst plenty of outstanding achievements, men’s tennis coach Ian Duvenhage can now add his 200th win at Vanderbilt to his collection of accolades. Coach Duvenhage is in the midst of his 16th season as head coach at Vanderbilt, and he picked up win No. 200 on Saturday with a 6-1 victory over the Lipscomb Bisons at Currey Tennis Center.

Admittedly, Duvenhage says the milestone snuck up on him.

“I had no idea,” Duvenhage said. “When Ryan [Lipman], my assistant coach, afterwards said ‘Congratulations,’ I was really taken aback.”

He may have been surprised by his latest achievement, but his sustained success in collegiate coaching is the product of years of hard work and player development.

Duvenhage, a native of South Africa, boasts an impressive track record from his prior coaching stops with over 35 years of head coaching experience. Soon after graduation from the University of Miami, he led the women’s program of his alma mater to a No. 2 national ranking in 1985. Duvenhage then parlayed his consistent success with the Hurricanes into a head coaching gig with the Florida Gators men’s team in 1988, where he won two SEC titles and coached four NCAA champions in 13 seasons at the helm. 

Following the 2001 season, Duvenhage departed Gainesville to become 1999 NCAA singles champion Jeff Morrison’s personal coach, traveling across the world to Grand Slam tournaments including Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the US Open and the French Open. Under Duvenhage’s tutelage, Morrison achieved a world singles ranking of 85 and competed against the likes of Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, in addition to defeating 2003 French Open singles champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.

While he was coaching on tour, Duvenhage wasn’t sure if he’d ever return to collegiate tennis, but current Vanderbilt women’s tennis assistant coach Geoff Macdonald was partly responsible for bringing him to Nashville.

“I said to Geoff McDonald many years ago, ‘If I ever coach anywhere other than Florida, the only place I would really be interested in coaching would be Vanderbilt.’” Duvenhage said. “Fast forward 10 years, I was coaching on tour and I answered the phone, and it was Geoff. He said, ‘Would you still be interested in coaching at Vanderbilt?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

In his 16 seasons on West End, Duvenhage has built Vanderbilt into one of the most well-respected programs in the nation as well as a consistent NCAA tournament contender. The 2013 season was a banner year for the Commodores, as they reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and saw now-assistant Ryan Lipman become the first ITA All-American of Duvenhage’s tenure at Vanderbilt.

“It’s an enormous luxury to have [Lipman] on staff,” Duvenhage said. “We sometimes joke that we’re like an old married couple because we think the same thing at the same time, and we can almost finish each other’s sentences. I don’t even think of myself as the head coach and him the assistant – I just feel like we work together.”

Coaches Duvenhage and Lipman have no shortage of experience, but the pandemic has brought about novel challenges for all. Nevertheless, the Commodores have continued practicing and competing with the same effort and dedication.

“I think these last 10-11 months have been so strange that I don’t really know what to expect. I’m taking it one day at time,” Duvenhage said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and we have to get better, but they’re fun to work with and they work hard.”

The Commodores hope to add to Coach Duvenhage’s win total when they face Illinois State at home on Saturday, Feb. 13.