Now in his 15th season as the head coach of the Ohio State women's tennis team, Chuck Merzbacher is leading the Buckeyes back into national prominence. Already the winningest coach in Ohio State program history, Merzbacher's teams have enjoyed success both on and off the court. He has led the squad to the NCAA tournament nine times, including the last three years and six-consecutive trips from 1999-04.
With a total of 21 years of head coaching experience to his credit, Merzbacher has collected 342 career wins, 209 coming at Ohio State. His teams have won seven conference titles, made 12 visits to the NCAA tournament and six individuals have earned All-America honors.
His teams also have produced in the classroom. Last season, five of seven Buckeyes earned Ohio State Scholar-Athlete honors and the same five were named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. In total, Merzbacher has coached 36 Ohio State Scholar-Athletes and 25 Academic All-Big Ten selections.
Merzbacher was not new to the state of Ohio or the Big Ten Conference when he was named the Ohio State coach in 1996. The Findlay native was the 1983 Ohio High School State Champion and a collegiate player at the University of Minnesota. He graduated from Minnesota in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and an outstanding tennis record.
Merzbacher was the all-time career victories leader at Minnesota with 137 and a three-time All-Big Ten selection. During his first collegiate season, Merzbacher won the Big Ten Conference No. 4 singles title.
Merzbacher served as Minnesota's assistant coach in 1987 before turning pro. During his professional career (1987-89), Merzbacher was ranked as high as No. 354 in singles and No. 335 in doubles. He played in both the Australian Open and the Wimbledon qualifier in 1989.
In his first season at the helm for the Buckeyes (1996-97), Merzbacher led his squad to a 12-13 overall record, going 4-7 in the Big Ten. In 1997-98, Merzbacher improved Ohio State's standing in the conference with an eighth-place finish and a 10-14 overall record.
In his third year, Merzbacher carried the Buckeyes to their best record in the Big Ten with wins over Indiana, a first since 1978, and Michigan, a first since 1989. After the success of the season, Merzbacher received the highest honor from his peers by being named the 1999 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
That 1999 squad held a 14-11 overall mark, a 6-4 Big Ten mark and a sixth-place standing in the conference, which then was the highest ever by an OSU squad. The season ended with another historical note as the Buckeyes made a run for the NCAA championship. It also was the first time in program history Ohio State had a team, a singles player and a doubles team all qualify for the NCAA tournament.
In the 1999-00 season, Merzbacher led his squad to an 18-8 record. The team was a perfect 11-0 at home and went 9-1 in the Big Ten while claiming the first regular-season conference title in program history. They finished the season tied for first in the Big Ten after the regular season. The Buckeyes won their first NCAA tournament match with a 5-3 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the first round.
In 2000-01, the Buckeyes recorded one of the best campaigns in history. The team compiled a 17-11 record and was 7-3 in conference play. The Buckeyes achieved a program-high ranking of No. 19 and finished third in the Big Ten. For the third consecutive season, the Buckeyes had a team, singles player and doubles team qualify for the NCAA championships. The squad also was invited to participate in the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
In the 2001 NCAA singles tournament, Kristy Dascoli, the four-time team MVP, advanced to the quarterfinals and then teamed up with Monica Rincon to advance to the quarterfinals in the doubles championship. Individually, the squad had Ohio State's first two All-Americans, Dascoli and Rincon, the Big Ten Player of the Year in Dascoli and two all-conference selections.
In 2001-02, the Buckeyes posted a record of 19-7, setting the school record for wins in a season. The squad continued its dominance at home, winning a program-best 14-consecutive home matches and setting the school record for home victories (14). The team earned a berth in the NCAA tournament, while All-Big Ten honoree Rincon qualified for the singles championship.
The 2002-03 team, despite playing only seven of its 24 matches at home, tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 6-4 record. The Buckeyes upset No. 19 Northwestern in the home finale en route to their fifth-consecutive berth into the NCAA tournament.
The 2003-04 season tied the deepest run into the NCAA tournament for an Ohio State squad, where they defeated host Harvard for the program's second NCAA tournament victory. The team also went deeper into the Big Ten tournament than ever before, making to the title match against Northwestern.
Ohio State saw renewed success during the 2007-08 season, as the Buckeyes tied the program high for wins with 19 and returned to the NCAA tournament. Merzbacher also helped coach two Buckeyes, freshman Cami Hubbs and junior Julie Blackmore to single-season singles and doubles wins records.
After reaching the NCAA tournament again in 2009, Merzbacher led Ohio State to a program-record 20 wins during the 2009-10 season, including a record 10 shutout victories, on the way to a first-round win over DePaul in the NCAA tournament.
Merzbacher began his coaching career in 1989 at Northern Illinois University as the men's tennis coach. He coached for three seasons, leading the Huskies to a 50-34 record and earning back-to-back Mid-Continent Coach of the Year titles.
Merzbacher left NIU to become the women's tennis head coach at the University of Kansas in 1992. During his four-year KU coaching career, Merzbacher led the team to four of its five-consecutive Big Eight Conference championships and three trips to the NCAA tournament, including a quarterfinal finish in 1994. He was named the 1993 and 1994 Big Eight Coach of the Year and the 1994 Central Region Coach of the Year.
During his four years at Kansas, Merzbacher coached four All-Americans and three Rolex All-Stars. His players captured four ITA National Collegiate Grand Slam Events, including the 1994 NCAA Doubles Championship. Seven times, the Jayhawks had finalists in the ITA National Collegiate Grand Slam tournaments (including a singles runner-up in the 1996 NCAA Championships). Merzbacher left Kansas with an 83-29 overall record and a 39-1 conference record.
Coaching Quick Facts
Full Name: Charles Merzbacher
Born: Jan. 31, 1965
Hometown: Findlay, Ohio
High School: Findlay High School
Alma Mater: University of Minnesota
Playing Career: Three-time All-Big Ten honoree at Minnesota ... played on two Big Ten Conference championship teams (1984 and 1986) ... qualified for the NCAA tournament in singles and doubles in 1985 ... played professionally from 1987-89 ... highlight of professional playing career was qualifying for the main draw singles of the 1989 Australian Open.
Coaching Career: Northern Illinois University men's tennis coach (1989-92). University of Kansas women's tennis coach (1992-1996). The Ohio State University (1996-present)
Coaching Career Highlights: Won two Mid-Continent Conference Titles at Northern Illinois ... led team to four Big Eight Conference Titles at Kansas ... won the Big Ten regular season title at Ohio State in 2000, led 10 teams to the NCAA tournament.
Family: Married to Cherie Merzbacher and a proud parent of son Chad and daughter Caitlyn.