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Tennis: Search for next head coach comes to a close

Change doesn’t necessarily mean some things can’t stay the same.

New Mexico completed the search for a pair of new tennis head coaches. Although there will be some new faces at the helm, a pedigree of success is something the new hires can continue to build on.

Shortly after naming Ben Dunbar as the men’s tennis head coach, New Mexico named Stephanie Wooten-Quidada the next head coach on the women’s side.

Ed Manzanares, a team operations director, said the coaching search had recently been narrowed down to two candidates and had expected an offer to be made soon.

He said the process was an interesting one, considering the timing. Former head coaches Bart Scott and Kelcy McKenna both moved on from their positions on the men’s and women’s team, respectively.

The departures came almost simultaneously, which left New Mexico in a unique situation—trying to fill two coaching vacancies in the same sport at the same time.

“Yeah, it was a surprise,” Manzanares said. “Both Kelcy and Bart got some great opportunities and we support them.

He said he hoped the school would hire people that would do as good a job as coach McKenna and Scott.

McKenna and Scott both made significant impacts during their coaching stints at UNM. McKenna guided the women to a conference championship during the 2014-2015 season. Scott coached a nationally ranked doubles to the semifinals at the USTA/ITA National Indoors and the quarterfinals in the ITA All-American Championships.

He also seemed to have the men’s squad poised to make a great run in the upcoming season, after they earned their mettle playing against some of the top programs in the country during the spring semester.

On the men’s side, Dunbar was named Scott’s successor after playing and coaching under the former head coach.

Manzanares said the coaching search helped show him just how tight-knit the Albuquerque tennis family is.

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He said Dunbar’s knowledge of the community and relationship with the athletes definitely played a factor. And his hire should provide the team with some valuable continuity.

“I think a lot of the people that really support men’s tennis were very excited about the selection,” he said. “I think it’s going to be pretty seamless.”

Bart Van Leijsen, one of the team captains last year, said he was really happy to find out Dunbar got the job.

“He knows what needs to be done with our team to win championships,” Van Leijsen said. “I feel like it is good that there are no big changes for the team.”

Continuity could also play a major role on the women’s team as well. Wooten-Quijada is likely to inherit a roster that includes several seniors, many of whom were a part of the conference championship team.

The new women’s head coach joins the Lobos after leading Texas-Rio Grande Valley to a conference championship of its own last season.

UTRGV is one of three programs she has helped coach to a conference championship or NCAA berth since 2011, according to a release.

Her résumé, which also includes being a former player at Purdue, and past success could be part of the recipe that helps New Mexico take the next step in its women’s tennis program.

Robert Maler is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers cross country, tennis, and track and field. He can be reached at or on Twitter @robert_maler.

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