Under the direction of Derek Mills the Santa Clara men’s tennis program has grown to new heights. Entering his sixth season at Santa Clara in 2012-13, which will be his 21st year of coaching at the youth and collegiate levels, he led the Broncos to their first-ever NCAA Tournament last season.
During the 2011-12 campaign, Mills led Santa Clara to its most successful season in program history, while garnering West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honors. Mills led the Broncos to numerous program firsts including the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance and first NCAA Tournament win against then-No. 19 Texas during the first round. The Broncos then fell to then-No. 11 Stanford, who advanced to the Elite Eight.
In 2012 Mills coached the Broncos to all-time highs in wins in a season (22), an all-time high in national ranking at No. 29 on March 6 and the highest end-of-season ranking in school history at No. 33. During the season Santa Clara finished second in the WCC while Mills coached four players to the all-conference singles team, four players to the all-conference doubles team and two members were also honored on the WCC All-Academic squad. Additionally, Mills helped freshman Ilya Ostinsev garner WCC Freshman of the Year honors, the second Bronco to ever receive the award. To date, the Broncos have been ranked in the ITA national weekly rankings 47 consecutive times, dating back to March 9, 2010.
In 2011, Mills led four Broncos to earn spots on the all-conference singles team. For the first time in the program’s history, Santa Clara was nationally ranked continuously throughout the season by the ITA poll. Starting with preseason ranking of No. 54 in January, the Broncos moved up to the season-highest rank No. 47. Finishing as the runner-up at the 2011 WCC Championships for the second straight year, SCU ended the season with No. 49 rank. They were 9-1 at home in 2011.
Mills guided the Broncos to a record-setting campaign in the spring of 2010, achieving an all-time high national ranking of No. 43 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Broncos reached the West Coast Conference championship match for only the second time in program history prior to accomplishing the feat again in 2011. In addition to those team accolades, five Broncos received All-WCC honors. They were 13-1 at home in 2010.
Mills, who attended high school at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in San Francisco, started at Santa Clara in 2007. He spent the previous six years working with some of the top juniors as a tennis professional in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Prior to teaching in Honolulu, Mills spent two seasons at Saint Louis University as the head men's and women's tennis coach. During those two seasons, he had three of his players earn All-Conference USA honors, while the team maintained a GPA of 3.3 or better. The team also won an All-Conference USA Sportsmanship Award. Two of his recruits on the men's team, Lance Vodicka and Ikaika Jobe, are currently earning points on the ATP tour.
Mills served a short stint as the assistant coach for both the men's and women's programs at Brigham Young University-Hawaii during the 1997-98 season.
Mills also spent time as an assistant coach for Northwest Missouri State from 1994-97, helping the men's team win three Mid-America Championships.