Neil Patel Hired as Head Coach of Men's Tennis

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Neil Patel has been hired as the head men’s tennis coach at Willamette University and will begin his duties immediately. Patel, a recent graduate of Pitzer College, played four years of tennis for Pomona-Pitzer. At Willamette, he takes over for Jon Endrikat, who recently completed his MBA degree at Willamette and is pursuing business opportunities.

“I’m really excited,” Patel said. “I want to build on what happened last year.”

In 2006-07, the Bearcats finished fifth in the Northwest Conference and earned an NWC Tournament berth. Willamette defeated the University of Puget Sound, 5-4, in the first round of the tournament, before losing to top-seeded Whitman College in the semifinals and falling to Linfield College, 5-4, in the third place match. The Bearcats concluded the season with a 10-12 overall record, including 8-8 in the NWC.

As a senior at Pomona-Pitzer, Patel saw action at #1 doubles and #3 singles. Patel and Jeff Jablonski were ranked 10th in doubles in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings for NCAA Division III. The Top 10 finish earned them NCAA Division All-America honors in doubles from the ITA. The overall Pomona-Pitzer squad ended the season ranked 29th in the nation.

Patel competed against some of Willamette’s NWC opponents. He faced players from Pacific Lutheran and Linfield and saw Whitman compete. “At least for conference play, I know what the strengths and weaknesses of the teams are,” he noted.

“We’re excited to have Neil join our staff, said Mark Majeski, director of athletics at Willamette. “He brings energy, enthusiasm and experience with one of the top NCAA Division III programs in the West. We look forward to Neil building upon the recent successes of our men’s tennis program.”

Patel graduated from Pitzer with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Studies. He received honors in both of his majors. Over the past four years, he also worked as the head men’s counselor at the Nike Tennis Camp at the University of California-Santa Cruz. In the summer of 2003, he was an intern for State Congressman Bill Johnson in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and in the summer of 2006, he was an English language tutor at UC-Santa Cruz.

At just under 22 years of age (his birthday is Oct. 12), Patel isn’t much older than his players at Willamette. Even so, he said his age may be an advantage, since he recently went through his own experiences as a student-athlete.

“I think ... I know the struggles intimately of what they’re going through,” Patel said. “I’m still so competitive ... I’m going to hate to lose.”

Neil Patel has been named head coach of the Willamette men's tennis team.

Neil Patel has been named head coach of the Willamette men's tennis team.