Currently in his 11th season at the University of North Carolina and his 22nd season overall as a collegiate head coach, Brian Kalbas has led the Tar Heels through one of the most successful runs in school history. Highlighted by the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championship, the program’s first trip to the national semifinals in 2010 and its first NCAA tennis title in 2007, UNC has advanced to the NCAA Tournament all 10 years under Kalbas.
Kalbas and the Tar Heels rose to the top of the collegiate tennis world in 2007 when seniors Sara Anundsen and Jenna Long defeated Megan Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic of William & Mary to claim the NCAA Doubles Championship. The title capped an incredible season for the duo that saw them reach No. 1 in the nation and earn National Doubles Team of the Year honors from the ITA, as they became the first Tar Heels to win an NCAA tennis title.
The Tar Heels made a team run in 2010 that would rival the accomplishments of Anundsen and Long. After rising to the No. 1 ranking in the ITA national poll for the first time in UNC history, Carolina was awarded a program-best No. 2 overall seed to the NCAA Team Championships and advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in school history. Wins over Richmond and UNLV in the Chapel Hill Regional led to a trip to the Sweet 16 in Athens, Ga., where the Tar Heels defeated ACC rivals Florida State and Duke for a spot in the Final Four. In addition to the memorable NCAA run, the Tar Heels ran through the ACC with a perfect 11-0 record and finished the dual season with a school record 30 wins. For Kalbas, the season culminated in his second ITA National Coach of the Year award.
Despite the loss of four seniors from the 2010 team, Kalbas and the Tar Heels did not miss a beat in 2011. Led by the All-America trio of Zoe De Bruycker, Shinann Featherston and Lauren McHale, UNC finished 26-6, advanced to the national quarterfinals and won the program’s first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title since 2002.
Kalbas served as head coach of William & Mary’s women’s tennis team for 11 years before accepting the head coaching position at Carolina in the summer of 2003. At William & Mary, Kalbas posted a 214-85 overall record and was named the 1998 ITA National Coach of the Year.
Kalbas’ teams have seen great success against ranked opponents. Since 1995 his teams have defeated 35 teams ranked in the Top 10 of the ITA poll, highlighted by a win over No. 1 Duke in 2010 and a win over No. 2 and eventual NCAA champion UCLA in 2008. Under Kalbas’ direction, 18 of his teams have been ranked in the Top 15 in the country.
Kalbas was a four-time Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year, winning the honor in 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2002. He was recognized as the ITA Regional Coach of the Year four times during his tenure at W&M.
He piloted his William & Mary teams to nine CAA Championships, the most recent being in 2002. Kalbas also coached William & Mary to two NCAA quarterfinals appearances. Under Kalbas’ direction at William & Mary and Carolina, he has coached a total of 14 All-Americas, the most recent being De Bruycker, Featherston and McHale. Carolina placed three players on the 2011 All-ACC team, De Bruycker, Featherston and senior Jelena Durisic.
Carolina continued its impressive run of NCAA success under Kalbas in 2009, with the team earning a bid as well as several individuals making the field. As a team, the Tar Heels defeated Georgia State before falling to ACC-rival Clemson in the second round. Individually, Marand and Tsang both earned singles bids, while Marand and Grabinski were joined in the doubles field by Tsang and senior Austin Smith. Marand advanced to the national quarterfinals, becoming just the third Tar Heel to reach the final eight in program history.
Both Tsang and Marand qualified for the NCAA Singles tournament in 2008 and Marand partnered with Grabinski to earn a doubles bid. Kalbas helped guide three singles players (Long, Tsang and Marand) and two doubles pairs (Anundsen/Long, Marand/Caitlin Collins) to NCAA play in 2007, marking the most Tar Heels ever to earn invites to the NCAA individual tournaments. Carolina also had more NCAA participants than any school in the nation in 2007. Long was also named the ITA Senior Player of the Year for her accomplishments in 2007.
UNC also had yet another highly successful season in dual match play in 2007. Carolina finished third in the highly-competitive ACC, a league which produced all three NCAA women’s titles during the year (singles, doubles, team). The Tar Heels were also named a host site for NCAA first and second round action, and they defeated Marist and rival Duke to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Athens, Ga., where they fell in a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to Notre Dame.
Carolina reached a new team pinnacle in 2006, earning a national ranking of No. 3 and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the second straight season, falling to Duke in the Round of 16. With a final record of 26-7, UNC posted its highest win total since the 1981-82 squad finished 26-14. Kalbas was named the Wilson/ITA Southeast Region Coach of the Year for his efforts.
The 2004-05 season was capped by a dramatic run to the NCAA Quarterfinals. After finishing 7-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, the Tar Heels earned the right to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Team Championships. Carolina opened the tournament with a 4-0 victory over Richmond. UNC then defeated rival Duke 4-0 for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Playing in just its third Sweet Sixteen, Carolina opened with a 4-0 upset of fourth-ranked Vanderbilt. The Tar Heels finished one win away from the Final Four, falling to Clemson 4-1 in the quarterfinals.
In 2005, Kendall Cline and Aniela Mojzis both received national awards from the ITA. Cline was awarded the ITA/Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award and Mojzis received the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship, marking the first time in ITA history that one school won both awards. Mojzis is the third player to win the national Arthur Ashe Award under Kalbas’ leadership. Carolijn van Rossum and Jessyca Arthur both won the award while Kalbas was coaching at William & Mary.
In 2007, Kalbas was tabbed to lead the United States team at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 13-29. Kalbas fronted a team of three of the nation’s best collegiate players, including Atlantic Coast Conference standout and NCAA champion Audra Cohen of Miami.
Kalbas is a 1989 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he was a four-year varsity player, playing at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in singles. He was captain of the Fighting Irish men’s tennis team his senior year and received the most valuable player and sportsmanship awards from Notre Dame. After graduation, Kalbas served as an assistant coach for the Notre Dame men’s tennis team from 1989-92. During his tenure, the Fighting Irish made their way to the Top 20 for the first time in school history, and, in 1992, the Irish reached the NCAA Championship match.
Kalbas and his wife, Suzanne, have two children, Sarah, 23, and Joseph, 14.