BUFFALO, NY – University at Buffalo Director of Athletics Warde Manuel has announced the hiring of Lee Nickell as head men's tennis coach. Nickell comes to UB after spending the last season as an assistant coach at Fresno State. Before that he spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Alabama, helping guide the Crimson Tide to a Top 12 national ranking.
"Lee brings a wealth of experience to Buffalo and has proven to be a winner wherever he has coached," said Manuel. "His tennis background and recruiting knowledge will prove to be a tremendous asset to our program, both on and off the court. His vision of the total student-athlete experience fits well with that of the entire department and we welcome him to the UB family."
This past season, Nickell coached at Fresno State, helping the Bulldogs to a final ranking of 44th in the nation and a 17-9 overall dual match record, while working alongside head coach Jay Udwadia, a Buffalo native. The Bulldogs narrowly missed an at large bid into the NCAA Tournament, but Nickell did coach Rudolf Siwy, who made it to the singles draw of the NCAA Championships. Siwy finished the season as the 54th ranked singles player in the nation. As for doubles, Siwy joined with Mirko Zapletal to finish 41st in the nation.
Prior to his stint at Fresno State, Nickell was an assistant coach at the University of Alabama, where in three seasons he helped move the Crimson Tide from 74th in the nation to the top 12. Alabama went 55-31 during the four seasons that Nickell was an assistant coach there. Alabama made the NCAA Tournament in all three years, including an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen in 2006. He also helped coach three individual players to the NCAA Championships including one doubles pair that went two years in a row.
"I am very excited to be the new men's head tennis coach at the University at Buffalo," said Nickell. "I would like to thank Warde Manuel and Paul Vecchio for giving me this great opportunity. My goal is to develop the University at Buffalo men's tennis program into a consistent top 50 program that competes for MAC titles and continues to excel in the classroom."
Nickell graduated in 2001 from Furman University with a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science. At Furman he played number one singles from 1998-02. He was a three year captain and was named to the All-Southern Conference Team twice in singles and once in doubles. Furman made their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001. At Furman, Nickell played for legendary men's tennis coach Paul Scarpa, who this past season became the all-time winningest coach in Division I men's tennis history.
Nickell replaces three-year coach Sherif Zaher, who resigned for personal reasons in April.