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St. Edward's Athletics | July 19, 2014

Sterns steps down

AUSTIN, Texas -- Russell Sterns, whose name is synonymous with St. Edward's tennis, is retiring from coaching after 27 years of service to the university.

Sterns is only the second men's tennis coach in the history of the university, having replaced his former coach, and Hall of Famer, Brother Emmett Strohmeyer in 1987. His storied tenure as one of the all-time winningest coaches on the Hilltop includes coaching both the men's and women's teams until 2009.

"I can still remember how excited I was in 1987 when athletic director John Knorr informed me that I was the new St. Edward's men's tennis coach -- I was 27 years old," said Sterns. "Having coached 863 college dual matches and 27 years later - to say St. Edward's has played a big part in my life would be an understatement. Time just flew by."

The second longest tenured coach in school history, Sterns' career with the Hilltoppers spanned three conferences: Big State Conference, Heart of Texas Conference and Heartland Conference; and two national affiliations: NAIA and NCAA Division II.

"We are not just losing a legendary coach, we are losing a piece of the fabric of the St. Edward's athletic tradition", said Debbie Taylor, Director of Athletics. "Much of Russell's passion for his student-athletes' success came from being an alum - from his appreciation and pride in St. Edward's University. Russell has a gift in seeing potential and providing the leadership and support that brings it to fruition for his student-athletes, not just as tennis athletes but as young men and women."

During his time at the helm, Sterns led the men's team to 18 national appearances that include reaching the national quarterfinals three times. In conference play, Sterns won 13 conference championships, including the past six in a row, and has enjoyed an overall conference record of 139 wins and 29 losses.

Under Sterns' leadership from 1990 to 2009, the women's program won five conference championships and made 12 national appearances, highlighted with a round-of-16 finish in 2009.

Between the two programs, Sterns was honored with 17 Conference Coach of the Year awards. In the past 15 seasons, he guided 11 men and nine women to Conference Player of the Year recognition and a total of 11 Freshman of the Year Awards. He has coached numerous All-Americans and Academic All-Americans. During his tenure, both programs have been long recognized as among the elite programs competing in Division II tennis.

Taylor said a national search will be conducted to find a new coach.