Tommy McDonald begins his seventh season as head coach for the UALR men’s program and first season as Director of Tennis. McDonald came to UALR in the fall of 2001 from Virginia Tech where he was the assistant coach for the Hokies for three seasons.
In fsix seasons at UALR, McDonald has built the Trojans into one of most improved programs in the nation. He has recorded an 103-55 career record for the men’s team and a 117-47 record for the women’s team. For his six seasons, McDonald has a 100% graduation rate for men’s and women’s tennis athletes that have exhausted their eligibility.
In 2005-06, the UALR women’s team finished their season with 21 wins, which ranked them second in most victories in school history. The men’s team finished the season with 19 wins, which ranked them fourth in school history in most victories.
The men’s and women’s team tied the school record with four athletes being named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week. Dinko Halachev received the honor twice, while Eduardo Autran and Bindiya Parekh received the award for the second straight season. Rain Roigas was honored for the first time in his career.
McDonald also had one current player and three former players named to the Sun Belt Conference 30th Anniversary Team. For the 2005-06 season, McDonald had five players named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week.
In 2004-05, the UALR women finished with the third-most wins in school history and a record of 19-8. Bindiya Parekh was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week; while on the men's side, Eduardo Autran was also honored as a Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week.
In '03-04, McDonald led UALR to one of the best seasons in school history as the men's team recorded a 20-9 record, and the women's squad set a school victories record with a 23-6 mark. This marked the first time in school history both teams reached 20 wins during the same season, and McDonald was the only Division I coach to have both of his teams nationally ranked at season's end.
The men's team - which was ranked as high as 59th nationally and ended the season 71st - finished third at the 2004 Sun Belt Conference Championships while the women finished fourth for the second consecutive season. The women's squad finished the season ranked 74th, the first national ranking for a UALR women's team in school history.
McDonald recruited one of the top freshman in the nation in Bastian Faisst for the 2004 season. Faisst ended the regular season ranked #43 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and was the third highest ranked freshman in the nation. He was also named the ITA Region V Rookie of the Year and was named All-Sun Belt in singles and doubles play, the first Trojan to accomplish this feat in seven seasons. Faisst also qualified for the NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championships, becoming the first UALR tennis player to compete in the national championships in nine years.
Individual success was not limited to Faisst during 2004. UALR was awarded Sun Belt Player of the Week honors four times in 2004. Ellie Vicary, Dave Baxendine along with Faisst, who earned the award twice, made up the school record four player of the week honorees. Freshman Outi Jarvinen also became the fourth women's player in the past three seasons to be ranked nationally by the ITA.
In his second season with the Trojans in 2003, McDonald signed Sebastian Falk to play for the Trojans. The freshman would go on to be ranked as high as #74 by the ITA and would be named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Singles Team.
McDonald also made strides with the women’s program as it opened the 2002 season with seven consecutive victories on the way to a final record of 17-11, improving on the 13-12 record during the previous season. In 2003, McDonald helped Julieta Lillo become the first All-Sun Belt Conference Singles selection since 1994. He also helped Lillo and Bindiya Parekh to become the first doubles team at UALR to be named All-Sun Belt Conference. The Trojans fourth-place finish in 2003 was the best since 1994.
McDonald had an immediate impact on the Trojan tennis program when he arrived on the UALR campus in 2001. He led the men's team to a final ITA ranking of #70 in his first season. The Trojans ended the season with a record of 18-6, improving on a 9-13 season a year before his arrival.
McDonald also helped senior Mariano Pettigrosso close out his career on a high note by becoming the first player in school history to be named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week twice in the same season. Pettigrosso finished the year with an 18-5 record that included a 15-match winning streak to end his career and was an All-Sun Belt Conference selection.
McDonald's teams have achieved as much success in the classroom as they have on the court. The UALR men's team has been named ITA All-Academic Team each of McDonald's five years at the helm of the Trojan program, while the women have achieved ITA All-Academic Team status on four occasions. In addition, 35 individual players have been named ITA Scholar Athletes.
For the 2004-05 and the 2001-02 seasons, the men’s team was recognized by the Sun Belt Conference for having the highest grade point average.
In 2005 and 2006, Bindiya Parekh was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first team. In 2006, she was named first team Academic All-American and received second team honors in 2005. Juan Carlos Nunez received second team Academic All-District in 2006.
“I am real pleased with some of the things we've been able to accomplish since I've been at UALR," McDonald said. "However, I am more excited about the future. I feel that with this year’s recruiting class, newly reconstructed courts, and the strong group of players we have returning gives us a solid foundation for future success. We need to take the next step and challenge for the Sun Belt Conference title, a conference many consider to be the nation’s most underrated. It is a very exciting time to be a student-athlete at UALR with all of the positive steps we are taking as a department.”
Before arriving at UALR, McDonald helped lead the Virginia Tech men’s tennis program to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1999 and to Atlantic 10 Conference titles in 1999 and 2000. Prior to beginning at Virginia Tech in 1998, McDonald spent two years on the International Tennis Federation’s ATP professional tour, competing throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia.
McDonald played college tennis at East Carolina University and received his bachelor’s degree from ECU in 1994. He received his master’s degree in 2001 from Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.
“In his career, Tommy has been surrounded with success as a player and a coach,” UALR athletic director Chris Peterson said. “He has the energy and personality necessary to help the Trojan tennis program get to the next level.”
McDonald’s wife Roseann is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and the College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, Va., and works as an oncology nurse for Arkansas Oncology. The couple has been married for eight years and had their first child, Savannah Jane, on Aug. 4, 2002 in Little Rock. Their second child, Charles Thomas, was born on August 7, 2005.