2004 NCAA Team Champion 17-straight NCAA appearances 1999 College Tennis Online National Coach of the Year 2005 ITA National Coach of the Year 2008 USPTA National Collegiate Coach of the Year Six-time Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year ('98,'02,'03,'04,'07 and '09) 13 Big 12 titles in last 15 years Member of Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame
Throughout his 18 seasons at the helm of the Baylor tennis program, head coach Matt Knoll has produced phenomenal results. Since arriving at Baylor in 1997, Knoll has amassed a 425-112 (.791) record. His teams have captured 12 Big 12 Conference regular season titles, including eight in a row from 2002-09, and eight Big 12 Tournament championships, including three straight from 2007-09.
However, the program's biggest accomplishment came in 2004 when it captured the NCAA national championship. Knoll's teams also won the 2005 National Team Indoor Championship and finished as the NCAA runner-up in 2005 and NCAA semifinalists in 2006 and 2007.
In addition, Knoll was named the National Coach of the Year three times (1999, 2005, 2008). He has also been honored as the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year six times (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009). Knoll was also inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, becoming just the second tennis representative to receive the honor.
During his tenure at Baylor, the program has risen to the top, becoming one of the nation's top two most successful collegiate men's tennis team over the past 13 seasons (2002-14). During that span, the Bears have not been ranked lower than No. 18 in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll. Baylor was ranked No. 1 after winning the 2004 NCAA championship, No. 2 in the final poll in `05, No. 4 in `03, `06 and `07, No. 6 in '11 and '14, No. 7 in `02, `09 and '10, No. 8 in `08, No. 18 in '12 and No. 12 in '13. For 10 years from 2002 through 2011, Baylor was one of only two schools, UCLA being the other, to be ranked in the top 10 of the final poll each year.
From 2004-2007, Baylor was the only men's team to advance to the NCAA semifinals each year. During that same period, the Bears posted a 118-14 (.894) mark.
In summary, during Knoll's time at Baylor, the Bears have finished the season ranked in the top 10, 13 times. Baylor has made 17 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and reached the round of 16 15 times in the past 16 seasons, including the NCAA finals in both 2004 and 2005.
CONTINUED DOMINANCE Following the 2004 championship many critics believed the program could not continue its winning ways, but since the title season Knoll's teams have continued to produce tremendous results on the court.
Last season, the Bears racked up their most wins since 2009 under Knoll's watch, amassing a 26-6 record overall, while advancing back to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2011. Knoll guided BU to a sweep of the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles as the Bears took down No. 3 Oklahoma, 4-3, in the league tournament finale. The Bears were 4-1 in Big 12 play and were 19-6 vs. ranked foes. Despite starting season just 7-4, Knoll guided BU to and 11-match win streak in the middle of the season, including upsets at No. 3 UCLA and vs. No. 6 Illinois. In the NCAA Championships, Baylor blanked No. 12 Illinois, 4-0, in the round of 16, before falling to No. 4 Virginia, 4-0 in the quarterfinals. Individually, Knoll helped sophomore Julian Lenz and senior Patrick Pradella to end of the year singles rankings of No. 4 and No. 18 respectively, with both players earning ITA All-America singles honors. Knoll's Bears finished the year at No. 6 and as the highest ranked team in Texas.
In 2013, Knoll led the Bears back to another Big 12 regular season title, and the round of 16 of the NCAA Championships. He helped develop newcomer Pradella into one of the nation's top 30 players and turned freshman Lenz into the Big 12's Freshman of the Year. Overall, Knoll directed BU to a 22-6 record, a 5-0 Big 12 mark and an end of the year rank of No. 12.
In 2012, Knoll was faced with one of the youngest teams in his time at Baylor. Five freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and two seniors made up a roster that finished the season with a 19-12 record. The Bears advanced to the finals of the Big 12 Championship and made it back to the NCAA Championship round of 16. Under Knoll's watch, freshman Mate Zsiga earned All-American honors in singles play.
With five student-athletes returning and the addition of three newcomers, the 2011 Bears recaptured the Big 12 regular season title with a perfect 6-0 mark, downing Texas A&M for the crown. In addition, Baylor finished the season at 22-5, was ranked No. 6 in the final ITA rankings and advanced to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals where it was eliminated by fourth-ranked Ohio State. Knoll added two more All-Americans to his already impressive list as John Peers and Roberto Maytin earned the recognition in doubles.
In 2010, Knoll welcomed back six letterwinners from the 2009 squad, including three seniors, as his team looked poised to continue its Big 12 Conference dominance. However, after a 16-3 non-conference record, the Bears lost to Texas A&M and Texas to start conference play. The losses cost the Bears a chance at their ninth straight conference title, but Baylor closed out Big 12 competition with four consecutive wins before being dealt a quarterfinal loss in the Big 12 Championship by Texas A&M. Using their senior leadership and the Knoll's guidance, the Bears rebounded from their second loss to A&M to march all of the way to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals as the No. 7 seed, defeating the Aggies in the round of 16 for the ultimate revenge. Baylor lost in the Elite Eight to No. 2 Tennessee, 4-0. Senior Denes Lukacs earned All-American status for the third time during his career, becoming just the fourth Bear to accomplish that feat. He closed his Baylor career with 135 career victories, while fellow senior Dominik Mueller was named an Academic All-American as he finished his career as BU's career leader in dual-match victories with 96.
In 2009, with just one senior on the squad, Baylor posted a 26-6 mark to earn the No. 7 spot in the final ITA rankings. The Bears were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight by third-ranked Ohio State, 4-1. The squad won the program's eight- straight regular season Big 12 title and the ninth overall and notched the program's seventh Big 12 tournament title. Lukacs earned All-American status for the second straight season and became one of only five Bears to become a two-time singles All-American, joining Benjamin Becker, Benedikt Dorsch, Lars Poerschke and Johann Jooste.
As the 2008 season dawned, lone senior Poerschke was projected to lead the Bears back to the top. However, he battled injuries throughout the season, as the Bears still posted a 25-9 record and finished the season at No. 8. Both Poerschke and Lukacs earned ITA All-American honors in singles. The Bears were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight by top-ranked and undefeated Virginia. Baylor won the program's seventh straight regular season Big 12 title and eighth overall and notched another Big 12 Championship title.
The Bears completed their 2007 campaign with a 28-4 mark and were ranked No. 4 in the FILA/Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) final national rankings to close a string of five straight years being ranked inside the final top four teams. The Bears fell to 10th-ranked Illinois in the NCAA semifinals; however, they once again claimed both the regular season and tournament titles in Big 12 play.
In 2006, Knoll's squad surprised many by advancing to the NCAA semifinals before falling to undefeated and top-ranked Georgia. The Bears finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country. Baylor also claimed its fifth straight Big 12 regular season title.
NATIONAL PROMINENCE The 2004 and 2005 campaigns proved to be, to this point, the most successful in the program's history. The men's tennis team brought Baylor its first team national title in school history in 2004. The Bears posted a 32-2 record, ending the season on a 24-match win streak. Baylor claimed the Big 12 Conference title, along with the Big 12 tournament title before going on to claim the NCAA championship over UCLA. Baylor senior Benjamin Becker also claimed the program's first individual championship as well earning the NCAA singles title.
In 2005, Baylor posted a 33-1 record and sported a 57-match win streak, which was halted in the championship match loss to UCLA. Baylor recorded its fourth consecutive Big 12 regular season and tournament titles as well. Dorsch, a senior, claimed the program's second straight NCAA singles title in 2005 following Becker's 2004 championship.
INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS Under Knoll's guidance, the Bears have produced two NCAA singles champions (Becker and Dorsch); two ITA Players of the Year (Dorsch, twice) and 14 players have earned All-American status (27 times). In fact, Dorsch earned double All-American status in all three of his seasons at Baylor. Four Knoll pupils, Becker, Dorsch, Poerschke and Peers, have enjoyed success on the ATP Tour. Becker has ranked among the tour's top 50 while Dorsch had a career-high ranking of 160. In addition, Becker was selected to represent his native Germany in 2007 Davis Cup competition. Poerschke reached as high as No. 279 on the ATP singles rankings. Peers is the latest BU product to shine on the pro tour as he has climbed as high as No. 27 in the ATP doubles rankings.
EARLY BAYLOR YEARS In 1996, Baylor finished 7-14 overall and did not win a conference match. Following that season, Baylor hired Knoll as coach and lead the Bears in the Big 12's inaugural season. The Bears finished eighth in the Big 12 in 1997, and since then have finished either first or second every year.
Following his hire, Knoll inherited a team with no seniors that had a 0-7 conference record. Knoll's first squad improved to 13-12 overall, adding Jooste, David Hodge and Johannes Michalsky to the team.
Year two saw the Bears improve again, jumping from eighth to second in the Big 12 and earning the program's first NCAA Tournament bid.
The Bears continued to grow in year three of the Knoll era, as Baylor showed signs of the success that was to come. Baylor finished second in the Big 12 for the second time and the Bears earned a top-10 final ranking after advancing to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. The Bears registered their first 20-win season, finishing at 25-4.
In year four, the Bears took the first of nine Big 12 regular season titles going 8-0 in conference play. The 2000 roster featured three All-Americans: Jooste, who earned honors in singles, while Hodge and Mark Williams were honored for doubles. Baylor upset defending national champion Stanford that season and reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
In 2001, the Bears lost four standouts Jooste, Hodge, Pawel Gajdzik and Michalsky. However, Baylor still reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
In 2002, the Bears won their second Big 12 regular season title, the first of what proved to be eight in a row. They took the Big 12 Conference regular season and the championship titles, a first for the evolving program. The Bears went undefeated in conference, 7-0, for the second time in three years and then-freshman Becker earned All-American honors.
In 2003, the Bears inched closer to the national title, advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals and finished the season ranked fourth, a program-best at the time. The Bears won their third Big 12 title, positioning themselves for a 2004 national championship run.
PRIOR TO BAYLOR Before arriving at Baylor, Knoll served as an assistant coach for two years at the University of Kansas. During his time in Lawrence, the Jayhawks won two Big Eight Conference titles, two Region V championships and made two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Knoll coached three All-Americans, three Davis Cup players and one Olympian at Kansas. He worked in a number of capacities at Kansas, including a stint as the director of the 1996 Big Eight Conference Tournament. Knoll was also the director of the Lawrence Tennis Association (LTA), a community tennis association that organized junior and adult leagues and tournaments along with junior tennis leagues.
Before coaching at Kansas, Knoll spent one year as the head men's tennis coach at Northern Iowa. He helped rebuild a program that was virtually noncompetitive before his arrival.
Prior to accepting the job at Northern Iowa, Knoll served as a teaching professional at the Overland Park (Kan.) Racquet Club for three years.
Knoll's first coaching experience came at the University of South Alabama, where he spent one year as the assistant men's and women's coach. Under his guidance, both squads were also crowned Sun Belt Conference champions.
Prior to coaching, Knoll enjoyed success as a player. He began his collegiate career at Kansas State, where he participated until the program was dropped. From there, he transferred to Washburn University for the remainder of his collegiate career. He received Academic All-American honors and was voted the team's Most Valuable Player.
Knoll finished out his playing career by traveling on the Satellite Professional Tour. He graduated Cum Laude from Washburn University and went on to earn a Masters of Arts degree from Kansas. Knoll is a USA Tennis High Performance Coach and a USPTA Professional.
PERSONAL Knoll resides in Waco with his wife, Greta, a Minnesota native. They are the proud parents of twin sons, Erik and Karch, born in February 2003.
THE KNOLL FILE
Jan. 31, 1966
Washburn University, 1989 University of Kansas,1992 (Master's)