John Mercer begins his 23rd season coaching at the Division I level and his sixth year at the helm of the Thundering Herd. Mercer took over the head coaching duties in 2003 and led the team to a 19-8 record in his first season and a school best 22-5 mark in 2004. Marshall took home the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships in both years and for these achievements Mercer was named the MAC Coach of the Year in 2003 and co-MAC Coach of the Year in 2004. In the 2005 season, Mercer guided the Thundering Herd to its fourth consecutive MAC Tournament Title and NCAA appearance as the squad finished 19-8 and he was named the ITA East Region Head Coach of the Year.
During second season play in C-USA, Mercer led the younger Herd squad to a 16-12 record with two top fifty victories over Ohio State and South Alabama, a C-USA runner-up finish, and a NCAA singles tournament appearance by Kellie Schmitt. In its first season in C-USA, the Herd found itself as the No. 2 seed in the C-USA tournament, only to be defeated. The Herd finished its season 18-7 with its top doubles team competing in the NCAA Tournament.
Mercer became the assistant coach at Marshall in 1994-95, joining his wife Laurie, the head coach at the time. While at Marshall, Mercer has helped build the program into a perennial MAC power and a force to be reckoned with on the national scene. During his time as the assistant Mercer helped Marshall to its first ever Southern Conference regular season and tournament championship in 1997.
After the team switched to the Mid-American Conference in 1998, Marshall was able to capture its first conference regular season championship in 2000 and its first tournament championship in 2002. In 2001, Mercer was named east region assistant coach of the year and was one of eight finalist for the national award.
Mercer played his collegiate tennis at Penn State University, where he was an academic all-conference selection. He graduated from Penn State in 1985 and served the next season as the Nittany Lion assistant men’s coach.
Following his stint with Penn State, Mercer served as an assistant men’s coach for the nationally-ranked University of Texas. While there, his teams consistently finished in the top 10 of the rankings. While at Texas, Mercer completed his master’s degree in exercise physiology.
After a successful career at Texas, Mercer went on to join West Virginia University, where he served as the assistant men’s tennis coach. During his six years with the Mountaineers, WVU won five Atlantic-10 regular season titles and appeared in two NCAA tournaments when only 20 teams were invited annually. In addition, the Mountaineers finished ranked in the top 25 two seasons and in the top 50 for three seasons during his tenure. During his career, Mercer has coached 11 All-Americans and coached in 12 NCAA championships.
Mercer also has experience at the professional level. He traveled for two years coaching on the ATP Tour and held an ATP doubles ranking in 1988. Other awards for Mercer include the 2001 East Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, named a USPTA P1 professional, named the USPTA/Middle States “Rookie Pro of the Year” in 1991, and combined with his father, Don Mercer, to form the #1 father-son doubles team in the Middle States Tennis Association.
Mercer comes from a tennis family. In 2001, the Dr. Donald Mercer family was named “Family of the Year” for the Middle States. He has two brothers, Tom, who was an All-American at TCU and was ranked in the top 100 in doubles and top 300 in singles on the ATP pro tour, and Ron Mercer, who also played at Texas and West Virginia and held an ATP singles and doubles ranking.
Mercer is married to the former Laurie Johnson and has three children: daughter Cassie, 11, son John Jeremiah, 7, and another son Andrew Jacob, 2.
John Mercer Quick Facts:
- 22 years of Division I coaching experience
- Named MAC Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004
- Coached Jessica Johnson and Ashley Kroh to the finals of the NCAA doubles tournament in 2004
- Johnson and Kroh became Marshall's first tennis All-Americans and first Olympic Sports participants in a NCAA National Final at Marshall
- In 2007, coached Kellie Schmitt and Karolina Soor to the ITA East Regional Championship doubles title with a win over the #1 nationally-ranked team in the finals
- ITA East Region Head Coach of the Year in 2005. East Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2001
- Marshall has compiled a 226-108 record since his arrival as an assistant in 1994 and the Herd has made five NCAA tournament appearances
- 11 All-Americans have played for Mercer and he has coached in 13 NCAA Championships
- Tennis is one of only two programs at MU to play in a NCAA tournament since Mercer took over in 2003.
- Mercer led the Herd to three-straight NCAA tournament appearances and four individual NCAA tournament appearances since he took over head coaching duties in 2003.