RICHMOND, Virginia – One of the most decorated coaches in athletics history Spider, legendary head coach of University of Richmond women’s tennis Marc Wesselink announced his retirement from the program after a 33-year run that took the program to unprecedented heights.
“I want to thank so many people for their friendship and support over what seems to me a very brief 33 years. Thanking everyone is an overwhelming task. I have relied on many players, coaches, friends and administrators .I have been blessed to have celebrated awards, graduations, accomplishments, weddings, babies and other major life events. It was a team effort all the way. and infinitely rewarding,” Wesselink said. “Being a part of my players’ lives has been a privilege. I learned as much as I taught. I’m very lucky to have worked with so many amazing people, with such a great attitude, in what was the my dream job. . Come on spiders!”
Wesselink amassed 379 wins during his Spider career, guiding the program to nine conference championship titles and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. The eight-time conference coach of the year recipient has posted more than 20 winning seasons and led the program to eight conference finalists. During his 33 years, the Spiders finished first or second in the conference championship 17 times.
“For more than three decades, Marc Wesselink has been an exemplary leader for women’s tennis Spider,” Vice President and Director of Athletics John P. Hardt said. “Mark has achieved incredible success in building Richmond into a nationally competitive program. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment and dedication to the University, and his lasting legacy will be the positive impact that he had on our student-athletes, coaches and staff.On behalf of Spider Athletics, it is my pleasure to congratulate Coach Wesselink on his well-deserved retirement and thank him for his outstanding service to the University and her leadership in the women’s tennis program.”
He began his tenure at Richmond in 1989 as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and led the Spiders to the ITA East Region Fall Team title in 1995. In 1997, he coached Richmond to ‘ in second place in the CAA Tournament and was named CAA Coach of the Year – his first of eight coaching honours.
Wesselink guided Richmond’s No. 1 doubles duo of Lesia Bilak and Bridget Merrick in 1997 to a national ranking of No. 9. As one of the top 32 pairs in the country, the duo qualified for the NCAA Doubles Championship. The Spiders would make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998.
Wesselink hit the 200 career win milestone in Richmond’s CAA Tournament win over state rival James Madison on April 14, 2000. He would lead the Spiders to six tournament finalists in 11 CAA seasons.
After the Spiders joined the Atlantic 10 before the 2001-02 season, Wesselink quickly made Richmond’s presence known to the league. He led the Spiders to the conference tournament championship in their first season as a member of the A-10. Wesselink was named A-10 Coach of the Year for his accomplishments in 2002.
Richmond dominated the A-10 for the next decade under Wesselink’s management. The Spiders have won nine Atlantic 10 Tournament championships in 11 years, including four consecutive titles in two different stretches, first from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2009 to 2012. Richmond has appeared in the NCAA Tournament each of those nine years, and Wesselink was named A-10 Coach of the Year seven of those nine years.
Under her tutelage, several Spiders have won major annual awards, including Erin Clark, who was named consecutive A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Emilie Dunbar was named the Most Outstanding Rookie and Most Outstanding Performer of 2018, and earned four consecutive All-Conference First-Team honors during her college career.
Wesselink landed its 400e career victory on February 16, 2019 with a 6-1 victory over Towson, and he led the Spiders to a second-place finish in the A-10 tournament that season before guiding them again to the A- title game. 10 in 2021.
Prior to Richmond, Wesselink spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Harvard (1987–89), helping the Crimsons to three consecutive Eastern Region championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. He began his head coaching career at Drake University where he posted a 60-24 mark, bringing his career win total to 439 wins. A well-respected coach in the tennis community, Wesselink served as chairman of the 83-team ITA Division I Eastern Regional Committee in 1993.
An announcement on the future leadership of Spider women’s tennis is expected next week.