One of the most decorated coaches in Cleveland State history, Brian Etzkin will begin his 16th year at the helm of the men’s tennis team, looking to continue the program’s success during the 2017-18 season.
Last season, Etzkin led the Vikings to an unprecedented run in the Horizon League Tournament, earning an appearance in the championship match as the No. 6 seed - the first sixth-seeded team to ever appear in the championship match. After struggling throughout the regular season, Etzkin and the Vikings picked up back-to-back upset victories in the first two rounds of the Horizon League Tournament, earning the program’s eighth trip to the Horizon League Championship match.
Although the Vikings came up short in the final, Etzkin still has plenty to work with for the upcoming 2017-18 season, including reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Year Nico Mostardi and an incoming freshman class that was ranked as one of the top-25 mid-major recruiting classes.
Etzkin became the head coach at CSU prior to the 2002-03 season, taking over a men’s program that was in dire need of rebuilding. The change came almost overnight, as the Vikings won nine matches during Etzkin’s first year, six more than the previous two years combined. In his time thus far, Etzkin has built a men’s program that is one of the most consistent in the league, earning a spot in the Horizon League Tournament every year during his tenure.
Under Etzkin’s guidance the Vikings have been crowned Horizon League Champions five times, claiming the title during the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 seasons. In 2009 the men’s tennis team became the third Cleveland State program to win back-to-back league titles, and in 2010 became the first program in school history to win three-straight.
The 2007-08 season marked the first time in program history that CSU earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and the Vikings have returned four times since then (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013). Under Etzkin, CSU owns a post-season record of 23-14, which includes Horizon League and NCAA tournament appearances.
The winningest coach in program history, Etzkin reached an impressive milestone during the 2015-16 season, recording his 200th career victory with the men’s program in a 5-2 victory over Butler on February 26, 2016. Etzkin, who is the only Horizon League coach to reach the 200-win milestone, enters the upcoming season with an overall record of 217-159 at the helm of the Vikings.
Thanks to his accolades, Etzkin has been named Horizon League Coach of the Year three times, earning the honor following the 2007, 2009 and 2010 seasons. In addition, he was named the 2009 ITA Midwest Regional Men’s Coach of the Year.
Etzkin has mentored eight all-league first team honorees, including four-time nominee Phil Orno (2007, 08, 09, 10) who was also named the Player of the Year as a sophomore. Three Vikings have earned Newcomer of the Year honors under Etzkin; Nico Mostardi (2017), Matt Kuelker (2011), and former assistant coach Jay Tee who won the award in 2003.
Cleveland State is just as impressive off the court, as 17 Vikings have been named ITA Scholar-Athletes since the 2002-03 season, and the men’s team has received ITA All-Academic honors twice (2009 & 2007). Four Vikings have also been awarded the Horizon League Herb Foster Sportsmanship honor, including reigning honoree Colton Buffington who earned the accolade last season as a senior. The other three Vikings to earn the honor are Rob Fox (2011), Steven Wipprecht (2009) and Brad Groleski (2006).
Etzkin has also encouraged his players to become community leaders. Under Etzkin, four members of the men’s tennis team have been named officers for the Cleveland State Student-Athlete Advisory Council; Steven Wipprecht (2008-09) and Jay Tee (2005-06) each served as the SAAC President during their careers, while Brad Groleski (2006-07) and Nolan Marks (2014-15) served as the Vice Presidents.
Over the past 15 seasons Brian Etzkin has turned the Cleveland State women’s tennis program into one of the top teams in the Horizon League – with the Vikings capturing three Horizon League Regular Season titles over the last four seasons. Etzkin has guided the Vikings to 12 winning seasons during his tenure, and will be striving for the same level of excellence during the 2017-18 season.
Etzkin became the head coach at CSU prior the 2002-03 season, taking over a women’s program that was in dire need of rebuilding. And the change came quickly, as the Vikings won 10 matches during Etzkin’s second year and have finished .500 or better in 12 of his 15 seasons.
The winningest coach in school history, Etzkin enters the 2017-18 season just shy of notching his 200th career victory with the women’s program, owning an overall record of 199-185 (.518) at the helm of the Vikings.
Etzkin’s success on the court has translated into an array of Horizon League accolades, including four Horizon League Coach of the Year awards (2004, 2011, 2014, 2016). He has mentored 18 All-League honorees, two Horizon League Players of the Year (Sarah Galon – 2005 and Lauren Golick – 2014), and three Horizon League Newcomers of the Year (Sarah Galon – 2004, Lauren Golick – 2014 and Isabella Spindler – 2016). During Etzkin’s tenure, two Vikings have earned First Team honors every year of their career - Sarah Galon (2004, `05, `06, `07) and Catrine Bjerrehus (2009, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12).
The Vikings are just as impressive off the court, as Victoria Bensimon, Blanche Lenoan and Jana Schober were named ITA Scholar-Athletes last year. The women’s team has also received ITA All-Academic Team honors 11 times under Etzkin, including last season when they posted a team grade point average of 3.41 for the 2016-17 academic year.
Three Vikings have also been awarded the Horizon League Herb Foster Sportsmanship Award, including Sarah Galon who was a two-time recipient (2006, 2007). Charlotte Gibbons (2010) and Morgan Ungerott (2008) also earned the accolade during their time at CSU.
Etzkin has also encouraged his players to become community leaders. Over the past 12 years five members of the women’s tennis team have been involved with the Cleveland State Student-Athlete Advisory Council, including last year’s senior duo of Victoria Bensimon and Princess Gbadamosi who served as SAAC Chairs during their time at Cleveland State.
Etzkin was born in Cleveland and raised in Wooster, but returned to Northeast Ohio after working as an assistant men’s tennis coach at Michigan State. While with the Spartans, he assisted in every aspect of the program, including serving as recruiting coordinator.
He also worked as the assistant tennis professional at the MSU Indoor Tennis Facility in addition to being the Tennis Director and Head Pro at Walnut Hills Country Club. Prior to working with Michigan State, Etzkin spent two years as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s teams at Western Illinois University from 1998-2000.
Etzkin also coached the 2002 Midwest Junior Davis Cup team to the national championship in Columbia, S.C. He is an active United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Certified Teaching Pro.
Etzkin played college tennis for four years at Southern-Illinois University-Carbondale, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. As a senior in 1998, he received GTE Academic All-American honors and was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference All-Academic selection.
He later returned to school, earning a master’s degree in sport management from Western Illinois in 2000, while serving as a graduate assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Etzkin and his wife, Holly, have one son, Aaron (6 1/2 years), and reside in Moreland Hills.