Legendary Men’s Tennis Head Coach Dave Fish ’72 to Retire

Legendary Men’s Tennis Head Coach Dave Fish ’72 to Retire

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After 42 remarkably successful seasons as the Scott Mead '77 Head Coach for Harvard Men's Tennis, Dave Fish '72 has announced his retirement.

Just the third head coach in program history, Fish has amassed a 702-319-1 (.687) overall record, including 21 Ivy League titles. On four separate occasions, Fish has been named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Coach of the Year, while leading the Crimson to 25 NCAA Tournaments, including 16 tournament victories. In 2014, Fish was the first ITA coach to win the 2014 Meritorious Service Award presented by Conant Leadership.

"I was fortunate enough to follow in the inspiring footsteps of my mentor and coach, the legendary Jack Barnaby '32, who showed me first-hand how meaningful the relationship between a coach and player could be," Fish said.  "Our program is in a great place, so the time is right for me to make this transition."

Leading the Crimson for 42 years, Fish is the second-longest tenured head coach in Harvard history, trailing only the renowned Harry Parker, who spent 51 years as the head coach of men's heavyweight crew.

"Dave Fish has epitomized the Harvard Athletics mission of education through athletics and has been a tremendous leader with the men's tennis program," said Bob Scalise, The John D. Nichols '53 Family Director of Athletics. "His devotion to Harvard and dedication to his student-athletes speak to his character as a coach, and we will greatly miss him as a leader and role model."

Fish has mentored 15 All-Americans throughout his tenure at Harvard, including 1999 ITA All-America champions James Blake '01 (singles and doubles) and Kunj Majmudar '99 (doubles). His most recent All-American came in 2014, when Denis Nguyen '15 advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA singles championships.

Prior to his tenure as the head coach of men's tennis, Fish served as the head coach for the Harvard men's squash team from 1976-89. In his 13 seasons, Fish amassed an impressive 123-9 overall record, including a 45-7 mark in Ivy League action. Fish led the team to eight Ivy League Championships, seven Potter Cup Championships and seven National Championship titles, while coaching six student-athletes to individual championship crowns.

A 1972 graduate of Harvard College, Fish was a dual-sport student-athlete with the squash and tennis teams, and he served as a captain for both squads as a senior. Fish was a two-time first team All-America and All-Ivy selection during his tenure on the squash team, and he helped lead the men's squash team to three national titles, and the men's tennis team to an Ivy League championship in 1970.

Harvard eclipsed 20 wins for the ninth time under Fish this season, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament at USC.

Following his retirement from Harvard, Fish will continue to be involved with the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), the equivalent of a golf handicap for tennis. Fish was integral in the development and widespread adoption of the UTR and will now contribute more fully to this initiative as a board member and advocate.

A national search for a successor is already underway.

What They're Saying About Dave Fish:
Dr. Timothy Russell, CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association:
"Personally, and on behalf of the ITA and college tennis, it is a pleasure to offer words of gratitude and celebration on the happy occasion of Dave Fish's retirement. Without question, coach Fish has been one of our sports greatest coaches, mentors, teachers and leaders. With a brilliant mind and caring heart he has served Harvard, his student-athletes, and our Association with creativity and tireless energy for decades. A member of the ITA's Board of Directors and Division I Operating Committee for many years, Dave was an articulate spokesperson in promoting the understanding that college tennis is fundamentally about higher education, a unique combination of individual and team competition that helps develop the world's next generation of leaders. While college tennis will miss Dave's daily presence, we know that he will always be close by as he continues to work to grow tennis globally."

David Benjamin, Former ITA Executive Director, Harvard '66:
"Dave Fish is the exemplar of the varsity tennis coach who has gone far 'above and beyond' in his service to the world of college tennis. Dave's multi-faceted initiatives off the court are uniquely coupled with his extraordinary on the court achievements over close to four decades as one of our country's most successful coaches." 

Bobby Bayliss, hall of fame coach at Notre Dame:
"Dave Fish has been one of the rare giants in our profession: an intuitive teacher, a peerless tactician, an in-demand mentor to players and coaches alike, a leader in the tennis world, and an extraordinary ambassador for our sport. Most of all, though, he is one of the genuinely nicest people I have ever met, a man who has the capacity to change lives. He has certainly has changed mine!"

Peter Wright, head coach at Cal:
"Dave Fish has been one of the most influential architects and thought leaders in college tennis. His life has been dedicated to his players and to giving back to the sport, and it's no mystery why he's been selected to serve on the top committees at the ITA, the NCAA, and the USTA. Dave is universally respected for his wisdom and balanced approach to the game, and he's one of the true gentlemen of our sport."

Peter Smith, head coach at USC:
"It is an honor to be a friend and colleague of coach Dave Fish. Dave has always been a smart forward thinker and college tennis will be forever grateful for his contributions. It will be a special memory of mine of our time sharing the court together, especially his last match on Sunday. I look forward to more contributions from Dave through UTR, and can't wait to see what he has in store for us."