When the head women's coaching position became vacant in the fall of 2007, Chattanooga Athletics Director Rick Hart turned to a familiar face and proven winner: Jeff Clark. A native Chattanoogan and a former UTC head coach, Clark returned to the university on December 17, 2007 to lead the women's tennis program. Hart said, "Jeff Clark has great experience as a teacher of tennis and a leader of young people. His teams have demonstrated what we are looking for athletically and academically, and he has always held sportsmanship on the court in high esteem."
Clark's success is showing on the court in his first two-plus years back at UTC. Last season, two Mocs earned spots on the Southern Conference All-Freshman team while Grace Robinette earned the Sportsmanship Award. The Lady Mocs also earned ITC All-Academic Team recognition.
Clark served as head coach for both the men's and women's tennis teams at UTC from 1998-2001. During that time his men captured the 2000 Southern Conference tournament title, earning the university's only NCAA Division I tennis tournament bid. That same year he guided his women's squad to the SoCon Tournament finals. In the spring of 1999, his first season as head coach, the men's squad reached the conference tournament final. Clark has over 100 combined wins as the head coach of the men's and women's teams at UTC.
Among his other accomplishments at UTC, he coached four singles players and four doubles teams to All-SoCon honors. One of those players, Jason Ontog, was a two-time All-SoCon selection and the 2001 conference Player of the Year. Clark's women's team maintained the highest grade point average among all UTC athletics teams from 1999 to 2001, and the 2001 squad was honored as an ITA All-Academic Team.
Prior to his head coaching stint at UTC, Clark was a Mocs assistant under former head coach Jim Thompson. Clark joined Thompson's staff in 1997 and their coaching partnership proved to be an immediate success, leading the UTC men to the Southern Conference tournament title and the women to the tournament finals.
Clark has enjoyed success throughout his collegiate coaching career. From 2002 to 2006 Clark served as the men's assistant coach at the University of Mississippi, one of the top programs in all of college tennis. Working with legendary coach Billy Chadwick, he helped coach the Rebels to four consecutive top-ten national team rankings, back-to-back SEC team titles, four SEC West titles, one Final Four appearance, and numerous All America singles and doubles honors. One of his Ole Miss players, Catalin Gard, achieved the number one singles ranking in college tennis during the 2004-05 season. In 2006 Clark was named ITA Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year and thus nominated for ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year.
In addition to his college coaching, Clark has mentored and developed many junior tennis players. He has worked with the tennis programs at the McCallie School from 1995-1997 and, more recently, from 2006-2007, coaching alongside Eric Voges, one of the top junior coaches in the Southeast. In 2001 Clark created a unique tennis program at the Bethlehem Community Center, a school and sports facility for inner-city youth in Chattanooga.
Clark is a 1995 graduate of Vanderbilt University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While a member of the Commodore tennis team, Clark led Vanderbilt to its first-ever NCAA Regional as the team captain his senior year. He played number four singles and number one doubles that season. After college Clark competed professionally, participating in ITF satellites and money tournaments in Europe and competing for his club team in Germany, TC Philippsburg, where he played in 1997 and 1998.
During his first stint coaching at UTC from 1997 to 2001, he earned his master's degree in English Literature from the university. Clark, 37, is married to the former Laura Brown of Signal Mountain, Tenn. The couple has three children: Peter, Caroline and Henry. They reside in Chattanooga.
Clark's Women's Tennis Head Coaching Record (All at UTC)