Lou Belken enters his 24th season as head coach of the Arizona State men’s tennis program, one, which has been known over the years for its accomplishments on the national level. Heading into his 24th year, Belken is only the 12th coach (currently only the second active) in Arizona State athletic history to achieve such a milestone.
During Belken’s tenure, he has guided the Sun Devils to NCAA postseason berths in 13 of the last 18 years, including five berths in the NCAA Sweet 16 and one quarterfinal appearance.
In addition, Belken has tutored and produced 14 All-American players and 19 All-Pacific-10 selections. Academically since 1991, Belken has placed 24 players on the Pacific-10 All-Academic teams and has placed several players on the Academic All-American teams, including three-time performer Ed Carter.
During the 2004 season, the Sun Devils advanced to NCAA Regional action for the 10th time in the past 11 years under Belken. The team also upset the National Champion runner-up UCLA, 5-2 and had four singles players and three doubles teams compete in the Pacific-10 Conference Championships with the duo of Chris Stewart and Jonathan Kinsella advancing to the semifinals of the Conference Championships.
In 2003, Belken guided ASU to a fourth-place (3-3) finish in the extremely competitive Pacific-10 Conference, its best finish since the 1999 season. ASU’s 6-1 victory against Santa Clara set two historical records as Belken achieved his 250th career win, while Arizona State earned the 600th win in the program's history. Other highlights from Belken’s 21st season include knocking off defending NCAA national champion USC, 4-3 and defeating the University of Arizona for the 13th straight time at home. Additionally, Belken tutored the doubles team of Olivier Charroin and Chris Stewart to a berth into the NCAA doubles championships after they won the Southern California Regional doubles championship.
Belken's 2002 team advanced to the NCAA Regional for the eighth time in the past nine seasons. Belken also guided Matt Klinger and the doubles tandem of Klinger and Mitchell Bowen to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships with the doubles team finishing 22nd in the country.
During the 2001 season, Belken’s squad defeated rival Arizona for the 11th consecutive season at home, and defeated 12th-ranked Auburn and 13th-ranked USC by 4-3 scores. Keeping his team ranked nationally for most of the season, Belken also guided the doubles team of Olivier Charroin and Pim Van Mele to the finals of the Pacific-10 Conference Doubles Championships.
Belken and his team of Sun Devils achieved several milestones during the 1999 season. One of Belken’s crowning achievements was earning his first Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year honor, as well as being named the Region VIII Coach of the Year. Under Belken, he guided ASU to its fourth NCAA Sweet 16 team appearance and a final ranking of 16th in the country. Belken forged the team to a 16-6 overall record and a 5-2 third place mark in the Pac-10, the team’s best conference finish in school history. The 1999 season also saw Belken tailor another first in ASU history when the Sun Devils knocked off fifth-ranked UCLA, 4-3 in Tempe.
During the 1998 season Belken’s 25th-ranked Sun Devil squad secured him his 200th career victory by defeating the University of Washington Huskies, 4-3 in Seattle. Also in 1998, Belken coached three players to 20 or more overall wins, as well as four players with double-digit dual wins. Already competing in arguably the toughest conference in the country, Belken also won’t back down from scheduling top-flight competition. Alone in ‘98, Belken’s team competed against seven top-10 teams in the nation, and of the 22 total matches, 19 were against nationally ranked opponents.
Also, 1995 was a banner year for Belken’s team as Sargis Sargsian gave the Sun Devils not only its first No. 1 ranked player in the country, but its first NCAA champion as well. Under Belken’s tutelage, Sargsian also became the first player in NCAA history to win four ITA Grand Slam crowns. He was showered with acclaim including Player of the Year and All-America honors. As a team, the Sun Devils made it to the round of sixteen in the NCAA tournament before being eliminated by Georgia. ASU defeated Colorado and Indiana State in regional action to reach that point.
Over the years, Belken steadily built the Arizona State program, guiding it to one of its finest season in 1991. The Sun Devils finished No. 8 in the country and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, posting an overall record of 21-10.
Brian Gyetko and Dave Lomicky garnered All-American acclaim in doubles while Gyetko also earned All-American status in singles. It was the second year in a row the duo had accomplished that feat. Gyetko went on to represent Canada at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Four of Belken’s pupils won national titles in 1990. Dave Lomicky was the first, winning the National Amateur Indoor singles championship, followed by doubles partner Bryan Gyetko who captured the Canadian National men’s singles championship. Ross Matheson then won the singles and doubles titles at the Scottish National Championships and Joel Finnigan concluded the run with a singles title at the U.S. Amateur.
Belken also directed his squad to the NCAA championships in 1988, its first trip since the dual match format was introduced. Belken’s Sun Devils posted an 18-10 mark and were ranked among the nation’s top-10 for the first time in a decade, eventually finishing the campaign ranked 11th. Among those 18 victories was a 5-4 triumph over top-ranked Southern California. It was ASU’s first win over the Trojans since 1979 and the initial conquest of USC for Belken. That same year, Doug Sachs became Belken’s initial All-America selection by downing two of the top three ranked singles players in the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association (ITCA) rankings.
Belken took over the Sun Devil program in August of 1982 after a nine-year stint as head professional at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Racquet Club. Belken took that position in 1973 with no nationally ranked players in the club, and within several years had developed two Wimbledon final eight participants, two national champions and numerous nationally ranked juniors.
Former ASU star Gary Donnelly and two-time All-American Jim Grabb were Belken’s top students at the club. Both were ranked among the top-40 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) singles rankings and top-10 in doubles.
Donnelly was a doubles finalist at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and French Open. His best singles effort was an appearance in the round of 16 at the 1985 U.S. Open and posting a top 50 singles ranking.
Grabb won the 1992 U.S. Open doubles title with Richey Reneberg and won the 1990 French Open doubles title with Patrick McEnroe. Grabb was ranked No. 1 in the world in ATP doubles and among the top-30 in singles.
Belken’s first Arizona State team in 1983 posted an 8-19 overall record, but within three years, the Sun Devils made their first seasonal appearance in the nation’s top-20.
Belken is a member of the ITA and United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).
A native of Rockford, Ill., Belken graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He graduated from Guilford High School in 1968.