DALLAS (SMU) – After 25 years at the helm of the SMU men’s tennis program and 35 years as a head coach, Carl Neufeld and SMU Athletics announced that he will be stepping away from his role on the Hilltop.
“After a quarter century of living my dream of coaching some of the most talented and intelligent students in the game, it’s time to step down,” said Neufeld. “I look forward to working with both professional players and five-year olds as my focus will be on coaching and taking on projects with an eye on developing better systems for training and coaching. I am excited about the possibilities and potential outcomes. SMU is my true love and that will never change.”
Neufeld earned his 600th career win as a head coach on April 8th, before notching number 601 in the final match of the regular season. He finishes with 420 of those wins coming on the Hilltop, ranking second in all-time wins at SMU behind former women’s basketball head coach Rhonda Rompola (1996-2016), who recorded 439 victories.
“Carl Neufeld is synonymous with the modern era of SMU men’s tennis,” said Director of Athletics Rick Hart. “He built upon our tradition of success, elevated our program and impacted the lives of hundreds of young men. Carl played an integral role in making the SMU Tennis Complex a reality, which will benefit SMU tennis for years to come. We thank Carl for his 25 years of loyal service and wish him the very best as he turns his focus to his passion for developing the game in Dallas. We will identify a time in the near future to appropriately celebrate his contributions to SMU.”
In his time at SMU, Neufeld led SMU to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, one Final Four and three conference championships, coached student-athletes to 12 All-America honors and earned three conference coach of the year awards. He also coached 16 student-athletes and 10 doubles pairings to ITA national end-of-season rankings.
After an 11-year absence from the NCAA Team Championships, Neufeld led SMU to the pinnacle of collegiate tennis in 1998 with its 11th appearance in the team championships. In only its second year in the WAC, SMU registered a 21-5 record, went 9-0 in conference play, and registered its first 20-win campaign and conference title since 1987. Neufeld led SMU to arguably its finest season ever in 2000-01, as two Mustangs won national titles while the team reached the Final Four at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1986. The accomplishment earned him his second WAC Coach of the Year honor. In the 2015-16 season, the Mustangs again advanced in the NCAA Championships, reaching the Sweet 16, and also reached the NCAA Tourney in 2016-17.
Taking an aggressive approach to SMU and the Dallas tennis community, Neufeld was the driving force behind bringing the ITA Indoor Collegiate Championships to Dallas in 1994. Neufeld was also the tournament director for the championships all 10 years that it was held in Dallas. Due in part to Neufeld’s efforts, Texas is emerging as one of the best tennis-playing regions in the country.
Neufeld came to the Hilltop after serving four years as the assistant coach at Southern California, where he helped guide the Trojans to three consecutive Pac-10 titles and two NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1993. The Trojans’ national title in 1991 was their first in 15 years and they won three straight Pac- 10 championships for the first time since 1966-68. While at USC, he coached nine NCAA All-Americans whose professional wins include Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, the French Open, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.
Before starting at USC in 1990, Neufeld was the head tennis coach at Northern Illinois for nine seasons (1980-89). In 1980 at age 22, Neufeld was the youngest head tennis coach in the nation. During his stint in DeKalb, he became the winningest coach in NIU history with a 181-104 record (.635). On his path to the wins record, Neufeld defeated schools from major conferences such as the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10, highlighted by three wins over perennial national power Notre Dame. His last four teams at Northern Illinois all won 20 or more dual matches and combined for a 112-42 (.727) record.