Now in his fourth season, head coach Lee Nickell has led the University at Buffalo men’s tennis team to some of its greatest successes in school history. The Bulls have posted double-digit victory seasons in each of Nickell’s three years at the helm, a feat not accomplished by a UB men’s tennis program since the 2000-03 seasons.
In his first season with the Bulls, Nickell led the team to an undefeated record in the Mid-American Conference, a top seed in the league championship tournament, a spot in the MAC Championship match and national and regional rankings for his players. For all those efforts, Nickell was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2010.
In 2012, he again led the team to a top seed in the MAC Tournament and a berth in the league final as the Bulls finished 11-10 and 4-1 in league play. In three years at UB, Nickell has posted a 36-25 overall record and a 12-3 mark in MAC dual matches.
Nickell was named to the position in June of 2009 after a national search. Prior to his arrival in Buffalo, Nickell was an assistant coach at Fresno State for one season and spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Alabama, helping guide the Crimson Tide to a Top 12 national ranking.
During the 2008-09 campaign, 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. Nickell helped four Bulldog netters earn All-Western Athletic Conference honors in 2009.
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. The Crimson Tide 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.
Before beginning his college coaching career in 2005, Nickell worked for four years at several clubs and tennis centers in the Southeast. In 2001, he was the Head Tennis Pro/Director of Junior Development at North Carolina’s Hendersonville Racquet Club. In 2003, Nickell was named Fitness Director at the Tops’l Beach and Racquet Club in Destin, Florida. before being named Tennis Professional at the Cherokee Tennis Center in Woodstock, Georgia. in 2004.
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 its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001. At Furman, Nickell played for legendary men’s tennis coach Paul Scarpa, the all-time winningest coach in Division I men’s tennis history.
On the national level, Nickell also serves as the Northeast Region Committee Chair for the Intercollegiate Tennis Asocociation.