After revitalizing the men's and women's tennis programs in his four-season tenure, head coach Marty Perry will leave this summer to take the same position at D-I University of Richmond.
Perry broke the news to his team just under two weeks ago, as second-year Marissa Lin and third-year Vindya Dayananda were preparing to represent the women's squad at the NCAA tournament.
"I told the team the day we left for NCAAs," Perry said. "I wanted to let them know before we left because it was probably going to get out soon, and I wanted them to hear it from me. I think it surprised them; I don't think anyone knew about it."
With Chicago's recent success and solid prospects for the future, the announcement surprised many athletes.
"It was just really a surprise that he would leave Chicago after dedicating the last few years to building up the team and turning it into one of the most successful programs at this school," Lin said. "It especially caught all of us off guard because we have an incredible new recruiting class coming in for next season, and we had no idea Marty wouldn't be around to be a part of that."
Perry first interviewed for the Richmond job after Chicago's teams concluded their seasons at the UAA Championships in April.
An opportunity for the Virginia native to be closer to his family was the main draw for Perry, who also cited the simplicity of leading just Richmond's men's program rather than continuing the dual coaching duties he carries at Chicago.
Immediately transforming Chicago tennis after his arrival from Colgate University in the fall of 2004, Perry guided the women to a three-win turnaround and the men to a whopping 11-win rebound in his debut year. The rapid upswing earned Perry UAA Coach of the Year honors.
Since then, each squad has earned an NCAA postseason appearance, and each has boasted at least one All-American finish at individual NCAAs.
This past season, the men posted a 13-8 mark, and the women a 10-9 record. With Lin and Dayananda heading to Nationals this spring, Perry leaves after managing to send at least one athlete to the postseason each year.
With the top players on each team returning next fall, including UAA Rookie of the Year Will Zhang for the men and All-Americans Lin and Dayananda for the women, Chicago's rising prominence made Perry's decision a hard one.
"It was tough having to leave Chicago," Perry said. "The teams are just starting to get competitive, and I think they're just going to get better. It was a really, really tough call. I think it kind of took everyone by surprise, but I had to make a decision professionally to stay or to have the chance for a quality life for my family, and that's what its all about."
However, the same promising programs that made it difficult for Perry to leave the Maroons also make Chicago an attractive option for prospective new coaches. As the Department of Physical Education and Athletics begins its search for his replacement, both Perry and his team are optimistic about finding a coach who can help the Maroons become fixtures on the national stage.
"I'm real confident they're going to bring in someone that's going to lead the team to the next level," Perry said, "and they're going to have a lot to work with."
For the Maroons, hopes are centered on finding a replacement that can continue what Perry started with the same devotion.
"Hopefully our new coach will be equally experienced and energetic," Lin said. "Finding someone who can match Marty's enthusiasm and dedication won't be easy, but we are hopeful and optimistic that there will be another perfect fit for us."
Perry's departure is the second of the year after having no turnovers in 2007. Former volleyball head coach Dorinda Von Tersch left in early February, and Vanessa Walby was named as her replacement in mid-April.