Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University Athletics Department has announced the departure of head men's and women's tennis coach Alex Palladino, who is leaving the Bulldog program to pursue other professional opportunities.
A United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Certified Tennis Professional, Palladino took over the Bulldog tennis programs prior to the 2007-08 campaign. His last official day at FSU will be on May 4.
Along with his duties as the head men's and women's tennis coach at FSU, Palladino also served as the head tennis professional at the FSU Racquet and Fitness Center on campus in addition to directing the tennis camp program.
This past season, Palladino guided the men's tennis team to the school's first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Championship since 1999, which snapped perennial league power Northwood's 12-year title run. The Bulldogs compiled a 17-7 overall record and upset nationally 37th-ranked Lewis (Ill.) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday (April 30) before falling to top-seeded host Drury (Mo.) in the second round.
"We are sorry to see Alex go and wish him the best," said FSU Associate Athletics Director Jon Coles, a former head tennis coach at Lake Superior State. "This year was one of the best men's seasons in recent memory and we have a great core returning with some exceptional young talent that he's recruited and coached."
In his five seasons as the head coach, Palladino's men's and women's teams combined for a 128-90 (.587) overall record. His men's teams posted a 67-42 (.615) mark while the women's program registered a 61-48 (.560) under his direction.
Additionally, he led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in four of his five seasons with the men's program. The women's team reached the national tournament in back-to-back seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The Bulldogs also climbed back near the top of the GLIAC standings in Palladino's tenure. The women's program posted only a 6-15 overall record in his initial campaign, but steadily improved each season and recorded a 20-5 ledger in 2010-11 while placing second in the conference standings with a 9-2 mark.
On the men's side, the Bulldogs lost only one league match in four of his five seasons, and after finishing fourth the year prior to his arrival, FSU placed second in the league all five campaigns. FSU was 33-6 overall in GLIAC regular-season men's competition under his watch.
Palladino was honored as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Midwest Regional Coach of the Year in 2009-10 for his efforts in leading the Bulldog program.
"Alex has made a tremendous impact on his student-athletes during his time here at Ferris and will be missed by everyone," said Derek Ameel, the director of FSU's Professional Tennis Management program and manager of the Racquet and Fitness Center.
A decorated collegiate and professional player in his own right, Palladino worked as a tennis instructor in West Michigan for more than 20 years prior to his arrival at FSU. He led Kalamazoo College to back-to-back NCAA Division III National Championships as a collegiate player from 1984-87 and has remained active as a professional player where he's claimed both the USPTA Midwest Player of the Year and West Michigan Adult Player of the Year Awards several times.
A national search for a replacement will begin immediately.
"The new coach will inherit good teams along with a storied and well-established program that is ready to compete for championships," Coles said. "We look forward to beginning the search for a motivated educator who will continue to move this program forward and be a good fit for the university and tennis community."