Men’s coach Stiegwardt stepped away from program March 20
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ricky Rojas is pulling double duty as East Tennessee State University’s men’s and women’s tennis teams both head to the NCAA tournament, as men’s head coach Martin Stiegwardt stepped away from his duties in late March.
Stiegwardt, who led ETSU to Southern Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances every year of his tenure, coached his last match in a 5-2 home win over New Mexico on March 19.
Rojas, who has coached the women’s team since 2018 and previously was an assistant for the men’s team, will lead both squads into NCAA tournament action.
The women, who finished the season 19-7 and 6-1 in the Southern Conference, play Vanderbilt in Columbus, Ohio at 10 a.m. Friday.
The men’s team has a first-round matchup with third-ranked Ohio State at 1 p.m. Saturday, also in Columbus.
ETSU Athletic Director Richard Sander said Stiegwardt, who didn’t complete his final season due to undisclosed personal reasons, had continued a strong legacy that’s seen the men’s team win conference championships in the Atlantic Sun or Southern nearly every year this century.
“He won the conference championship every year he was the coach and set the stage for this year’s team to win the conference championship,” Sander said. “He recruited all the players.”
“Our goal is to win that tournament every year and advance to the NCAA tournament, and I’m very pleased with where our tennis program has been during his tenure.”
ETSU’s men were 7-9 overall and 3-1 in the conference after the New Mexico match. They finished the regular season 9-13, but 5-2 in the conference, then avenged regular season losses to Mercer, whom they beat 4-0 in the semifinals, and Chattanooga, who the team blanked 4-0 in the championship match.
A March 8 news release announcing Stiegwardt’s pending departure noted that the team had also won three regular season Southern Conference championships under his leadership. The Bucs also had 15 Southern Conference All-Academic selections during his tenure.
That release said ETSU would begin a national search immediately, but Sander said Wednesday that process remains in its very early stages.