Upon his hiring as head coach prior to the 2002-03 season, Adam Steinberg told Pepperdine Director of Athletics Dr. John Watson that he could turn the men's tennis team into national champions. In just four seasons, Steinberg stayed true to his word.
Now in his 12th year as head coach at Pepperdine in 2013-14, Steinberg has established himself as part of an elite group of coaches. His 2006 Waves won the national championship and in 11 years he has an overall record of 248-79 (.758)* along with 10* West Coast Conference tournament championships and 10* NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2006, he was named the National Coach of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and he is a seven-time WCC Coach of the Year.
During the fall of 2011, Steinberg, along with the 2006 NCAA Championship winning squad, was inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame.
Steinberg's 2012 team reached the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament after pulling off perhaps the biggest upset of the championship. The seventh-seeded Waves stunned No. 2 seed Georgia, 4-3, in front of its hometown crowd in Athens, Ga. Pepperdine would finish the season with a 27-7 record, which included a string of 24 consecutive wins - a new program record. Sebastian Fanselow picked up ITA All-American honors for the second-straight season in singles, and additionally was named the ITA National Player to Watch and WCC Player of the Year.
In addition to the Bulldogs, the Waves recorded tournament wins over Green Bay, Washington and Tulsa, before bowing out during the semifinals to Virginia. Pepperdine sat at #6 in the final ITA poll of 2012 - the second highest final ranking during the Steinberg era.
Steinberg was recognized by his peers at the 2012 ITA Southwest Regional Coach of the Year. It was the second time in his career he had earned the distinction.
The following season, Pepperdine advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship and once again finished in the top-10 in the final ITA rankings. Both Fanselow and Alex Sarkissian earned ITA All-American status in singles, while Fanselow was national recognized as the winner of the ITA/Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award.
Each of his last nine teams has finished in top 25 in the ITA national rankings, and all 11 of his squads have ended up in the top 30.
Nine of his players at Pepperdine have been named ITA All-Americans 21 times (11 in singles, 10 in doubles). In addition, Steinberg has tutored 28 All-WCC first team selections in singles and 16 first-team doubles pairs. A Pepperdine student-athlete has been named WCC Player of the Year in 10 of his 11 seasons.
In 20 years as a head coach, which includes previous stops at St. John's and Alabama, he has cumulated an overall record of 378-158 (.705)*.
Steinberg's first two Pepperdine teams reached the NCAA Tournament's second round. He also produced two All-Americans in Diego Acuna and Calle Hansen in 2003, while in 2004, Pedro Rico earned the honor in both singles and doubles (along with Hansen) as a sophomore.
In 2005, Steinberg led the Waves to the quarterfinals in College Station, Texas, and ended the season with a #8 final ranking. Rico and Scott Doerner earned their first All-America honors in doubles after ending the season ranked #2.
The 2006 championship began with the freshmen he brought in for the 2002-03 season. Steinberg developed those young players and recruited more talent to the squad over time, and the result was the program's first NCAA title.
After earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament with its 16th-consecutive West Coast Conference title, Pepperdine began its magnificent tournament run. The Waves picked up wins over Montana State and TCU in the first two rounds of action in Malibu, and then traveled north to Stanford to continue their title hopes. Steinberg guided his team to wins over Florida in the Sweet 16 and defending national champion UCLA in the Elite Eight.
The Waves then avenged their only two losses during the regular season in the final two matches of the tournament. Pepperdine beat Texas in the semifinals after losing to the Longhorns in April. In the championship match, Andre Begemann's win at the fourth singles position clinched the Waves' 4-2 upset victory over previously undefeated Georgia. The Bulldogs had beaten the Waves 4-0 on Feb. 20 at the ITA National Indoor Championships.
With a record of 36-2, it marked an NCAA record for most wins in a season by a championship team. Steinberg's #1 doubles team, Doerner and Begemann, were runner-up in the NCAA Doubles Championships and were named All-Americans. Doerner also earned All-America honors in singles after finishing the year ranked at #14.
Doerner, Rico, Ivor Lovrak and Kevin Borzenski ended their collegiate tennis careers as national champions with the Waves. Lovrak, a transfer in 2005, went an incredible 24-1 playing at the #3 singles position his senior year and was named the Most Outstanding Performer of the NCAA Tournament.
Because of Pepperdine's success, Steinberg was named the ITA National Coach of the Year after earning the ITA West Region Coach of the Year just weeks earlier. Steinberg also was named the WCC Coach of the Year for the second-straight season.
The 2007 squad went 23-8* overall and Steinberg directed the squad to a second-round finish in the NCAA Tournament.
During that season, his fifth, he moved into second place among Pepperdine's men's tennis coaches in career victories. He trails only Allen Fox's 368 wins, which came over the course of 17 seasons.
The 2008 Waves had another strong year, going 20-7* overall, winning the school's 18th consecutive WCC title, reaching the NCAA's Round of 16 and finishing with a #12 national ranking. Begemann* and Bassam Beidas were named All-Americans after reaching the semifinals and the quarterfinals of the NCAA singles tournament, respectively. Steinberg earned WCC co-Coach of the Year honors.
Steinberg was again WCC Coach of the Year in 2009 as the Waves went 20-10* and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a #18 final ranking. Omar Altmann was an All-American in singles after making it to the NCAA Round of 16, and he and Beidas won the award in doubles after reaching the NCAA quarterfinals.
The 2010 season was another fine one as Pepperdine went 17-11* overall, reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament and had a final ranking of #21. Steinberg was named WCC Coach of the Year for the fifth time and Beidas earned All-American honors for the third straight year.
2011 was a rollercoaster year for the Waves, who reached as high as #6 in the rankings and ended the season listed at #15. They finished the season with an 18-5* record, which included two wins over top-10 ranked opponents. Fanselow earned All-American distinction in singles, after upsetting the brackets' No. 2 seed and reaching the Round of 16 at the NCAA Singles Championship.
Steinberg came to Pepperdine from Alabama, where he was the head coach from 1998-2002 and posted a record of 69-57 (.548). Steinberg took the Crimson Tide to the NCAA Tournament in his first season at the helm. The 1999 squad advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and he guided Francisco Rodriguez to All-American status and a #5 national ranking, the school's highest-ranked player ever. In his final season, 2002, Alabama posted a 15-8 record and tied for second place in the SEC West Division. The Tide notched wins over #8 Kentucky and #12 Auburn before earning a #18 ranking in the year's final national poll.
Looking to further his coaching career, Steinberg was at Northwestern for two seasons as an assistant coach under Paul Torricelli. During Steinberg's second season (1997), the Wildcats competed in the NCAA Tournament and had a final national ranking of #25.
Just two years removed from his playing days, Steinberg was named the head coach at St. John's University, and he served as head coach there from 1991-95. In his five years with the Red Storm, Steinberg compiled an impressive dual-match record of 61-22 (.735) and led the program to a Big East title in 1991. St. John's captured second-place finishes in 1993, 1994 and 1995. He was an assistant coach at St. John's for the 1989-90 season.
A native New Yorker, Steinberg played his college tennis at Penn State, where he served as team captain his senior year. He stayed on at Penn State for the 1988-89 season in order to serve as a student assistant for the Nittany Lions while completing his bachelor's degree in marketing.
He and his wife, Casey, reside in Thousand Oaks. They have a daughter, Mia.
*Pepperdine later vacated all wins (75), postseason loses (3), West Coast Conference Tournament Championships (3) and NCAA Tournament appearances (3) accrued during the 2008, `09, `10 and `11 seasons due to self-reported NCAA violations. Records marked with an asterisk do not reflect this. Pepperdine's official NCAA all-time record prior to the 2013-14 season is 1,020-368, while Adam Steinberg's official NCAA record at Pepperdine is 173-76 and 303-155 overall. The Waves have officially won 40 WCC Tournament titles and made 34 NCAA appearances. Official season records are as follows: 2008, 0-6; 2009, 0-9; 2010, 0-10; 2011, 0-5. Appearances by Andre Begemann in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Tournament were also later vacated.