|Alma Mater:||Duke '01|
Career Coaching Record: 179-79, 73-28 ACC
ITA Carolina Region Coach of the Year (2010, 2012)
Ramsey Smith enters his 10th season as the Duke men’s tennis head coach. He was named the 11th head coach in program history in June, 2008.
Smith, a former Duke men’s tennis standout, returned to his alma mater in the 2005-06 season as an assistant coach. He served on the Blue Devils’ coaching staff for three seasons as an assistant and associate head coach prior to accepting the head coaching position.
In nine seasons at the helm of the Duke program, Smith has compiled an overall record of 179-79 and a 73-28 Atlantic Coast Conference ledger with six 20-win seasons in the last eight campaigns. He has taken the Blue Devils to the NCAA Team Championship in eight of his nine seasons, winning the first round match seven times and advancing to the Round of 16 five times.
Under his watch, Duke has had one ITA National Doubles Team of the Year and one ITA National Rookie of the Year. Smith has helped produce three All-Americans who have received nine accolades, three ITA Regional Seniors of the Year, two ITA Regional Rookies of the Year, two ITA Senior Most Improved Players, one ITA Regional Player to Watch, two ITA Regional Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship & Leadership Award winners and one national recipient, two ACC Players of the Year, one ACC Rookie of the Year, 22 All-ACC accolades and 31 All-ACC Academic Team selections.
One of the finer coaching jobs by Smith was turned in during the 2017 campaign, when the Blue Devils were without top player Nicolas Alvarez for the entire spring campaign and fielded a lineup of just six for more than a month due to injury and illness. Despite the small numbers, Smith guided the squad to a 16-10 record, return trip to the NCAA Team Championship after missing out in 2016 and a trio of All-ACC selections. Senior TJ Pura finished 11-0 in ACC play to compile the longest single-season ACC winning streak in program history. The 2017 squad, which featured three freshmen and three sophomores in singles, flipped the ACC record from 4-8 in 2016 to 8-4 in 2017. Smith also became the third coach in program history to reach the 175-win milestone when Duke topped Clemson 5-2 in April.
The 2016 campaign produced a second straight first team All-ACC accolade for Alvarez as the Blue Devils’ usual starting lineup was one of the youngest in the country wth three freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and one senior. Smith moved into third place on the school’s all-time wins list during the season with the 160th victory of his career, a 5-2 triumph against Boston College. Smith helped the 2015 Blue Devils to a 24-7 record and climb to No. 2 in the ITA poll, their highest ranking since 2000. Smith guided Duke to its sixth consecutive 20-win campaign, 24th straight NCAA Team Championship bid and to the NCAA Round of 16. Duke reached the NCAA’s final 16 after winning both matches of the NCAA Durham Regional. The Blue Devils defeated South Carolina State 5-0 and No. 23 Stanford 4-1 in Durham to finish the year 16-0 inside Ambler Tennis Stadium, marking the ninth time in program history a squad has gone undefeated at home. Smith also saw a trio of players reach 100 career singles wins in 2015, tied for the most in a year in program history. Senior Raphael Hemmeler, redshirt senior Chris Mengel and senior Jason Tahir all reached the 100-win plateau. Hemmeler, Tahir and freshman Alvarez represented Duke at the NCAA Singles Championship with Alvarez and Hemmeler in the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Duke posted a program-record 10 ACC victories in 2014, fueled by a nine-match win streak in conference play that began with a 4-3 upset of No. 9 Notre Dame and also included a win over No. 8 North Carolina in the season finale. Under Smith’s direction, the squad finished the year 20-7 and made the program’s 23rd consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship tournament, falling in the second round to Tennessee. Fred Saba and Tahir both represented the Blue Devils in the NCAA Singles Championship, while Saba also eclipsed the 100-win milestone in singles during the spring and closed his career as the program record holder in ACC singles victories with 35 over four seasons. He was joined by Tahir, Hemmeler and Bruno Semenzato in earning All-ACC recognition. Hemmeler also received the ITA Regional Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship & Leadership Award.
The Blue Devils finished the 2013 campaign 25-6 to match the 1999, 2000 and 2012 squads for the second most wins in program history. The team was ranked seventh in the final ITA rankings for the highest final team ranking since 2006. The Blue Devils advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the eighth time overall and the second consecutive season. Henrique Cunha, Saba and Michael Redlicki competed in the NCAA Singles Tournament, while Cunha and Hemmeler as well as Redlicki and Tahir competed in the doubles competition. Cunha and Hemmeler reached the semifinals of the competition to earn All-America honors and concluded the season as the nation’s top-ranked duo. The squad completed the regular season second in the ACC standings with a 9-1 ledger and finished with an undefeated 15-0 mark at home for the first time since the 2000-01 campaign. Cunha, Saba and Redlicki were selected to the All-ACC team, with Cunha earning ACC Player of the Year recognition for the second time in his four seasons. Duke also led the conference in representatives on the All-ACC Academic Team. Cunha became the second Blue Devil in program history to win the ITA National Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship & Leadership Award after current Duke Associate Head Coach Jonathan Stokke in 2006.
In 2012, the Blue Devils finished the year 25-6 and ranked eighth in the final ITA poll. The team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Team Championship for the first time since 2001, while Cunha and Mengel also competed in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships. Duke concluded ACC play with a 9-2 mark to finish second in the final regular season standings and played for the ACC Championship for the third straight year. Cunha and Mengel were selected to the All-ACC team and Saba paced the squad with a 10-1 ACC singles record.
In 2011 Smith led the Blue Devils to a 22-10 overall record, the school’s highest win total since 2006. Duke went 9-2 in ACC play to tie for second in the conference and made the ACC Championship finals. Smith also guided his squad to the round of 16 in the NCAA Championship and the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. He coached three players to 30-win seasons in singles, marking just the third time it has happened in school history. Both Reid Carleton and Cunha received All-America honors in singles and doubles. The two players advanced to the quarterfinals in the NCAA doubles championships while Cunha also made the quarterfinals in singles and Carleton the Round of 64.
In 2010 Smith was named the ITA Carolina Region Coach of the Year after leading Duke to its best season since 2006. The Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA round of 16 and made the finals of the ACC Championship for the first time since winning the title in 2006. Duke finished the season with a 20-9 record and was second in the ACC at 9-2. Smith coached Cunha to one of the best seasons in school history, as Cunha earned ITA National Rookie of the Year and ACC Player of the Year honors while receiving the No. 1 seed in both singles and doubles at the NCAA Championship. Cunha made the semifinals in singles and teamed with Carleton to earn All-America status by reaching the quarterfinals in doubles. The duo was named the ITA National Doubles Team of the Year after ranking No. 1 in each of the final five polls.
In his first season as the Blue Devils’ head coach, Smith guided Duke to a 16-9 record and 7-4 mark in the ACC in 2009. Smith turned things around for the program, posting a .640 winning percentage after the team went 11-14 (.440) in 2008, its first losing season since 1970. The Blue Devils advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship tournament and finished the year ranked No. 23 nationally. Kiril Dimitrov was named to the All-ACC squad.
Smith has excelled on the recruiting front. His first year he brought in Cunha, who earned ITA National Rookie of the Year honors. The second class under Smith was ranked No. 1 in 2011 according to Tennisrecruiting.net. The three players in the class combined to win 62 singles matches as freshmen, led by Mengel who went 33-11 and earned ITA Regional Rookie of the Year honors. In his third signing class, Smith picked up his second international recruit with Hemmeler, from Switzerland, and also signed blue chip recruit Tahir, a top-10 player from New York. The two combined for 52 wins in singles as freshmen and Hemmeler won a team-high 30 doubles matches.
In his fourth class, Smith brought in the No. 3 class according to Tennisrecruiting.net. He signed his third international recruit with Semenzato of Brazil in 2012 and his fourth with Alvarez of Peru arriving in the fall of 2014. The 2015 and 2016 freshman classes were ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, according to Tennisrecruiting.net.
During his three seasons as an assistant coach, Smith helped Duke to a 49-31 overall record and 23-10 mark in the ACC. Under his tutelage, the Blue Devils produced five All-Americans, eight All-ACC selections and one ACC Championship MVP. Duke made the NCAA Team Championship each year, advancing as far as the Round of 16 in 2006. That season, the Blue Devils captured the ACC Championship with a 4-3 win in the finals over Virginia after trailing 3-0.
Also while an assistant coach at Duke, Smith started the Royal Blue Club, a Duke tennis fan club that gives special promotions for men’s and women’s matches. Smith has also helped the Blue Devils raise money for new indoor and outdoor courts and scoreboards as well as a new video system with cameras on all six indoor and outdoor courts.
A native of Hilton Head, S.C., Smith lettered four seasons at Duke from 1998-2001 and ranks third all-time in school history with 118 career singles victories. He helped the Blue Devils to four-year records of 96-11 overall and an undefeated 32-0 mark in conference regular season action. From 1998-2001 Duke claimed four ACC Championships, four top 10 national rankings and three NCAA Championship quarterfinal appearances. Smith finished his career with a 118-37 singles record and 103-47 doubles ledger. A staple in the ITA singles and doubles rankings, Smith was ranked as high as No. 5 in singles in 2001 and No. 5 in doubles in 2000 with Doug Root. He was ranked in the top-10 in singles for four consecutive rankings during his senior season.
Smith was a two-time All-America, earning the honor in 2000 and 2001. He was named All-ACC three times, in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the ACC Tournament MVP in 2000 and 2001. In addition, he was a two-time recipient of the Tennis Magazine/Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award and was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002.
After receiving his bachelor of arts degree in economics from Duke in 2001, Smith played one year of professional tennis, posting an ATP world ranking of 603 in singles and 723 in doubles before suffering a career-ending shoulder injury in September of 2002. He reached the semifinals at Futures Tournaments in Malibu, Calif.; Chetumal, Mexico; and Little Rock, Ark. Following his professional career, Smith worked with the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy, where he served as a coach, camp organizer and academy secretary for three years. He also spent three summers (2003-05) as a full-time fly fishing guide with Alaska West Sportfishing.
Smith completed the USTA High Performance Coaching Program in Carson, Calif., in 2007 and is a USPTA certified Teaching Professional.
Born September 4, 1978, Smith and his wife, Kathy, reside in Durham with their daughter, Sofie, and son, Sandon.
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