I hadn’t really expected any major men’s tennis news during the summer, as I expected that there had been enough of an improvement over the past season and a young, promising core in place for Coach Gajdzik to keep his job. However, that was not the case. The athletic department evidently got tired of four straight seasons of finishing in the bottom third of the conference, as well as a fifth that was heading that direction if not for COVID-19, and decided to cut ties. This allowed for a new hire that I love upon first glance: Geoff Young was hired back in late June as the new coach of the Purdue Boilermakers men’s tennis team. Back when Minnesota was in the process of dropping their men’s tennis team and Purdue was mired in one of their worst seasons ever, I really hoped that Coach Young would come to West Lafayette, and now I have received my wish. Coach Young is a proven winner with plenty of ties to the Big Ten, and Purdue can give him another chance at coaching in this conference.
Coach Young has been involved in the Big Ten since he was an undergraduate, as he played under Paul Torricelli at Northwestern back in the early 1990s. He started coaching after graduation, and his first head coaching opportunity came at Denver, where he was asked to head the women’s team in the fall of 1999. After a season and a half there, he switched to the head coach for the men’s tennis team at Denver. When he first arrived in this position, Denver was a mid-tier team in the Sun Belt. His Denver teams were a bit hard to judge at times: they pulled off several nice wins over opponents from power conferences, but they tended to struggle against conference opponents that, theoretically, should have been easier. This was enough to catch Minnesota’s eye, and they hired him in July 2006. Overall, he would finish his Minnesota coaching career with a 209-150 record overall and a 90-62 record in Big Ten play, including a 11-5 record against the Boilermakers. He had a pretty good position to work with, and while the first couple of seasons were good and then mediocre, he really started making an impact in his third season with a 19-8, 7-3 record and a run to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. They would finish that 2008-09 season ranked #30 in the nation, and they would be ranked #39 or better at the end of nine of Young’s finished seasons and a tenth that never finished. As a team, the Golden Gophers made it to the NCAA Tournament ten times in Young’s fifteen seasons, and there were an additional five NCAA Singles entrants and one NCAA Doubles entrant. Coach Young also did something at Minnesota that Purdue has never accomplished: win a Big Ten team title in 2015, shared with Illinois and Ohio State.
I do have one major concern with this hire: roster friction. One of the reasons that I waited as long as I did to publish this post was that I wanted to see how the roster would shift due to the coaching change. Unfortunately, there were some key losses at this point. There is time for this to change, but as the roster looks now, Purdue would be without Gabriele Brancatelli, Piotr Galus, and Rohan Sachdev this coming season. Combine that with the fact that Athell Bennett ran out of eligibility, and there’s not much in the cupboard. 2022-2023 looks like it could be a "year zero" for Coach Young, especially if there aren’t any late transfers to add some firepower at the top of the lineup card. The hope is that Coach Young is able to use his talents of recruiting and development to push Purdue to a point where they are at least the middle of the conference team that can make the NCAA Tournament approximately every other year.