Head coach Don Ball is entering his 24th year as the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at New Mexico State University. He is the longest tenured coach in school history and has coached over 1,000 career spring dual matches and has more than 500 combined victories from his men’s and women’s tennis teams.
This past season Ball’s recruiting efforts from across the globe paid off for NMSU. After losing seasons on both the men’s and women’s teams in 2007, NMSU saw a resurgence in 2008 and both squads had superb seasons.
First year Aggies Stephanie Eusebe and Sophia Marks were both named to the All-WAC Second Team in singles play and Marks and Aleksa Costa earned a second team nod in doubles play. On the men’s side Gustave Diep was named to his second-straight All-WAC Second Team in singles and Ball led him to ITA Mountain Region Rookie of the Year honors the year before.
Roman Stoisavljevic and Eduardo Salas became the first NMSU’s doubles team to be ranked since the end of the 2000 season. They appeared in the rankings at No. 52 for two week in 2008 and received second team all-league honors at the end of the year.
The men’s team went 13-7 in 2008, which tied for the second most victories since the turn of the century and they advanced to their second semifinal appearance at the WAC Championships in three years in the WAC. The women’s team finished 12-10 in 2008 and those 12 victories tied for the most wins in the past six seasons. The Aggie women also advanced to their second semifinal appearance at the WAC Championships in three seasons of WAC play.
Since NMSU joined the WAC in June of 2005, Ball’s teams have found great success in the league. Both the men’s and women’s team went undefeated in conference regular season play in 2008. The men’s squad has a 7-2 all-time WAC record while the women are 9-1 in league play.
Ball came to NMSU in the fall of 1985 after serving as the head tennis professional at the El Paso Tennis Club in El Paso, Texas. Since taking over the Aggies’ programs, the men’s team has gone 250-263 and the women’s team is 267-262-1 under his direction. His men’s teams have had 11 winning seasons and the women have had 12 while his combined coaching record is 517-525-1 (.496).
This past season New Mexico State hosted the 2008 WAC Championships at the state-of-the-art NMSU Tennis Center, arguable one of Ball’s greatest career accomplishments. In July of 2007 the new 3,000 square foot clubhouse opened and it features offices, classrooms, team rooms and a player lounge. The luxury of the clubhouse supports the extravagance of the tennis center, which features 12 championship, post-tension hard courts and a high-tech lighting system that could support live televised matches at night.
The NMSU Tennis Center is without question, one of the premier outdoor facilities in all of college tennis and it is attributed to Ball, who was fundamental in overseeing the development, construction, maintenance and growth of the NMSU Tennis Center, where he is the director.
Ball’s true passion in coaching is watching the young men and women grow as people and seeing the student-athletes develop their games. During his tenure, Ball has coached 11 different women that earned all-conference singles accolades and 11 men. Six different Aggie women’s doubles teams have gone on to earn all-league honors along with eight different doubles teams on the men’s squad.
Under Ball’s direction, both the Aggie women’s and men’s teams have consistently been ranked in the top 75. The women’s best ranking came in 2001, when they were ranked No. 53 while the men’s best ranking came in 2000, when they topped out at No. 46. The Aggie men’s squad finished its 2008 season ranked No. 85 and the men’s program has participated in the NCAA Tournament twice (1997 and 2000).
Not only is Ball committed to excellence on the court, but in the classroom as well. He has coached three players that were academic all-America selections, most recently Sandra Mayr in 2004. Diep was selected to the 2008 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team with his 4.0 grade point average in pre-medicine.
His women’s teams were selected to the ITA All-Academic Team list from 2002-2006. During that span he had eight players named to the ITA Scholar-Athlete list and in three seasons in the WAC, 15 of his student-athletes have been named to the academic all-league team.
In 2005 and 2006, his men’s squads earned ITA All-Academic Team honors. Seven of his male student-athletes have garnered ITA Scholar-Athlete honors under his rein and he has had 13 academic all-conference selections.
Ball has received recognition for his coaching and community service over the years. In November 2007, Ball was given the Southwest Section USTA/ITA Community Service Award by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
After the 1998-99 season, Ball was named Big West Head Coach of the Year when he guided his men’s team to a 17-7 record. That same year he was honored as the Southern USPTA Coach of the Year. Then following the women’s team fourth-place finish at the High Country Athletic Conference Championship in 1988, Ball was named the coach of the year.
In his playing days, Ball was an outstanding player. He began his collegiate playing career at New Mexico in 1967, where he posted a 28-3 singles record in two years. After the 1968-69 season, he transferred to Idaho State where he played his final season. A team captain as a senior in 1971, Ball played at the No. 1 singles position and his team named him the most valuable player. He was the runner-up in No. 1 singles at the Big Sky Conference Championships.
After graduating from Idaho State, Ball entered the United States Army where he was a member of the U.S. Army Tennis Clinic Team. In 1974 he was the U.S. Army TRADOC singles and doubles champion. Following his discharge from the Army, Ball moved to New Jersey where he became the promoter and director of the $25,000 Allaire Open in 1978, a tournament on the American Express Professional Circuit.
In 1980 Ball became head instructor at the El Paso Tennis Club. There he coached five nationally ranked junior players, three sectional champions, one national champion and more than 50 sectionally ranked juniors.
Ball’s family has always been heavily involved with the sport of tennis and for all of their family work, the United States Tennis Association named them the USTA National Family of the Year in the spring of 1991. The award was in honor of Don, his father Russell Ball, as well as the rest of the Ball family for their efforts in the sport over the years.
Ball and his wife Denise have two children, Donny and Darcy.