Jeff Brown has been a part of LSU tennis for almost half his life, playing a major role in nearly all of the most successful teams in the program's history. Now entering into his 17th season as the Tigers' head coach, Brown has done more than just maintain the standards of excellence that have characterized LSU tennis since his days as a player here. He has raised the bar substantially.
Brown took the reins of the program in 1998 after serving as an assistant to Jerry Simmons for three seasons. He was an All-American doubles player for LSU in 1988 and spent five years on the professional circuit.
Brown led the Tigers to back-to-back SEC Championships in 1998 and 1999, becoming the first person in league history to do so in his first two seasons as head coach. The Tigers also won the SEC Tournament both years.
He has since proven those feats were more than just beginner's luck. Brown quickly earned respect among his peers due to his lengthy list of achievements. Brown has taken his teams to the NCAA Tournament in 14 out of 15 years, and earned Louisiana Coach of the Year honors in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007. He has coached 16 All-Americans in his tenure, and after young teams fell out of the top 20 in 2002 and 2003, he brought the team back to the national spotlight in 2004. In 2005, Brown helped the Tigers return to the top 10 for the first time since 1998.
With Brown at the helm the Tigers have finished in the top 10 three times during his tenure. But he's not ready to stop there. More than anyone, Brown himself would like to get back to the top of the conference because he remembers the thrill of being a part of championship teams.
"The years when we won the SEC and got to the Final Fours set the standard that we want to get back to," he said. "When you have a couple of years where you don't make it you really appreciate it and you're hungry for more."
Brown has put his Tigers in position to succeed on and off the court. Brown helped setup "Duel Under the Oaks" on October 29, 2006, a charity event held on LSU's campus that helped raise more than $400,000 for LSU Health Sciences Center students impacted by the hurricanes that ripped through Louisiana in 2005. The event included a youth tennis clinic, tennis exhibitions with LSU tennis players and local celebrities and the main event of an exhibition match with former tennis pros Pete Sampras against Todd Martin at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The event was such a success that LSU hosted "Dual Under the Oaks II" in December 2008.
During Brown's LSU tenure, the Tigers have had 3 SEC Scholar Athlete's of the Year, 13 Academic All-Americans and 63 SEC Honor Roll members.
The Tigers were honored by the NCAA in 2008 for their Academic Progress Rate score. The Tigers scored a perfect APR of 1000 in the report by the NCAA. The LSU men's tennis team scored the highest among LSU sports for the third year in a row. The NCAA recognized college sports teams from around the country that achieved an APR score in the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sports. The LSU men's tennis team is one of only 10 sports teams out of 236 squads in the entire Southeastern Conference that were recognized for academic achievement by the NCAA, and it is the only men's tennis team in the SEC to achieve the honor.
When Brown took over the program in 1998, he was already well acquainted with the demands of being successful in college tennis. He enjoyed tremendous success as a player at LSU from 1985-88, as evidenced by his two All-SEC awards. He joined the Tiger tennis elite in his senior season when he eclipsed the 100-career victory mark. That same year he captained LSU's only NCAA finals team. He still has the fourth-most wins of any player in LSU history. Brown helped lead the Tigers to an 85-35 record as an assistant coach from 1994-97. LSU finished in the top-10 three of those years.
"To be a part of LSU from so many angles, first as a player, then as an assistant and now as a head coach has been wonderful," Brown said. "The tradition that has been here is that we're competing for championships and we're going to fight you to the end. That's the thing that's always been known about LSU in most sports and particularly tennis.
"LSU's overall sports excellence helps because our guys are around other people who are used to winning. Athletes here run into each other often and it's almost like there's a silent competition amongst the sports. You are pulling for each other of course, but at the same time you're driven not to fall behind the other sports on campus."
"Jeff represents what the LSU tennis program is all about," said Hall of Fame coach Jerry Simmons, who coached Brown on the 1988 LSU team that reached the NCAA Tournament championship match. Brown was team captain that year, leading the Tigers to a 27-2 record. Three years earlier as a freshman, Brown won a crucial SEC match at No. 4 singles that enabled LSU to win the conference crown.
"I knew as a player that I probably wanted to be a coach," Brown said. "I could see that it was something that kept you young and kept you around young people. Everyone I came in contact with as a player has had some influence on me as a coach."
Brown came across quite a few tennis legends as a player. He earned his degree at LSU in 1989 while serving as an assistant coach, then left Baton Rouge for the ATP tour. He won the doubles title at the Volvo International in 1990 and advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open by beating the team of Pete Sampras and Jim Courier in the first round. Brown also advanced to the round of 16 at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. His No. 47 international ranking in doubles is the second highest ranking ever for a former LSU player, behind only former Tiger Ken Skupski who was ranked No. 44 in doubles.
Brown married the former Deborah Schaeffer of Colorado Springs, Colo., on Nov. 19, 1999. They have two young boys, Connor (8) and Cameron (6).
The Jeff Brown File
Year at LSU: 15th
Birthdate: Nov. 15, 1966
Birthplace: Dubuque, Iowa
LSU's Fourth All-Time Winningest Singles Player (100 Career Wins)
1988 Team Captain
1985 All-SEC Singles
1985 SEC No. 4 Singles Champion
1986 SEC No. 3 Doubles Champion
1988 SEC All-SEC Singles and Doubles
1988 NCAA Singles and Doubles Participant
1988 Doubles All-American
Four-year Letterman (1985-88)
1990 Volvo International Doubles Champion
1990 U.S. Open Doubles Round of 16
1991 Volvo International Doubles Finalist
1991 Australian Open Doubles Round of 16
1991 Wimbledon Doubles Round of 16
1998 SEC Co-Coach of the Year
1998 ITA Region III Coach of the Year
1998 Louisiana Coach of the Year
1999 College Tennis Magazine National Coach of the Year
1999 Louisiana Coach of the Year
2001 Louisiana Coach of the Year
2002 Louisiana Coach of the Year
2005 Louisiana Coach of the Year
2007 Louisiana Coach of the Year