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Keith Puryear Resigns As Head Men's and Women's Tennis Coach To Become Head Women's Coach at Navy
Head men’s and women’s tennis coach Keith Puryear, a UMBC alumnus who guided the Retrievers for most of the past two decades, has resigned to become head women’s tennis coach at the United States Naval Academy. Puryear will complete the fall season with the Retrievers before taking over the program at Navy, which will be elevated from club to varsity status in the fall of 2009.
“UMBC has been a major part of my life for the past 23 years, as a student, assistant tennis coach and head coach,” Puryear said. “My kids have grown up on this campus. So it saddens me to leave. I will always remember fondly the time that I have spent here and the relationships that were developed with the players, coaches, support staff and administrators. Everyone has helped play a part in the success of the tennis program here.
Puryear won 443 matches as the UMBC mentor, recorded a 59.4 winning percentage and earned nine conference Coach of the Year honors in the past decade. His men’s teams appeared in five NCAA Tournaments (2000-2003, 2007), while the women have also made five trips (1999-2003) to NCAA competition.
In March of 2008, Puryear was named 2007 Mid-Atlantic College Coach of the Year by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).
A national search is underway for Puryear’s successor. Current assistant coach and UMBC alumnae Ale Pedergnana will join Puryear in Annapolis.
“Keith Puryear was the first person that I hired at UMBC and he turned out to be one of our best,” UMBC Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Brown said. “He was nurtured here and developed into an outstanding collegiate tennis coach. His teams have done an amazing job, winning many titles under his direction. Keith is also without peer in our department regarding the academic progress of the student-athletes. He and Ale will be missed, but we wish them the best at Navy.”
Puryear always made sure that success in academics took top priority. Team members are committed to excelling in the classroom and are consistently among the department’s leaders in student-athletes earning semester honors. The women’s tennis squad posted a grade-point average of 3.49 last year, best amongst all the programs in the America East Conference.
Last spring, current senior Cornelia Carapcea became the fourth national Academic All-American honoree in the sport of women's tennis, making that program the most honored in UMBC's Division I history. She is the 15th Academic All-American at the Division I level for UMBC, all of which have occurred since 1991. Eleven of the 15 recipients have been selected since 1999 and Carapcea joins Kathryn Wheatley (2001) and Lana Khavalina (2003, 2004) as the women's tennis standouts to be honored. On the men’s side, Oscar Lopez earned a pair of Academic All-America citations in 1999 and 2000.
Puryear is a certified USPATA professional and instructor for the Tennis Institute, where he coaches several MATA- and nationally-ranked juniors. He also currently plays at the competitive level in both Maryland and in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association, where he has been ranked in the top five in the state for the past five years, and has been ranked as high as #2 in doubles on four different occasions. In 1998, Puryear was ranked #1 in the state in the men’s 35 and older, and in 1999, was #6 in the Mid-Atlantic region. Puryear, a two-time state doubles champion, is also an instructor at the Green Spring, Perring, and Twin Lakes Racquet Clubs.
Coach Puryear transferred to UMBC after attending and playing at Howard University for two years. Following a year of tennis at UMBC, Keith changed venues and entered the United States Marine Corps for the years of 1983-88. Returning to his studies at UMBC, Puryear graduated with a B.S. in Economics in the spring of 1990. He took over the men’s program that year and was named head coach of the women’s program in 1992.
Coach Puryear was selected Big South Conference Women’s Coach of the Year in 1997-98, and was the NEC Women’s Coach of the Year in 1999 & 2001. In addition, he was selected as the NEC Men’s Coach of the Year for 2000-2001. In 2002, he accomplished his second consecutive double, earning both men’s and women’s Coach of the Year honors, and in 2003, he captured the women’s award for the third straight year.
Puryear guided the men’s team to its first America East title in the spring of 2007. The Retriever mentor and Pedergnana, a former No. 1 singles player at UMBC, were named both men’s and women’s coaching staffs of the year.