Monday, June 16, 2014

Longtime UIS tennis coach Manny Velasco retires

The name Manny Velasco is synonymous with tennis in Central Illinois.

He has coached the sport for five decades. Until now. Velasco is retiring as the University of Illinois Springfield men’s and women’s tennis coach, effective Sunday. He remains the tennis director at the Springfield Park District’s Velasco Tennis Center and has held the post since 1976. The 76-year-old is retiring from coaching for multiple reasons.

“I don’t really want to because it is a part of my life, but it’s about time that I step aside,” Velasco said. “I have bad knees. I want to have a little bit more time in Florida. I don’t want to face the winters here. I want to leave it (coaching UIS tennis) open to some new blood.”

Velasco began coaching at UIS as the men’s coach in 1984. He took over the women’s program from Dominic Giacomini in 2007. Velasco was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Coach of the Year in 1992. He was a five-time Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year. His teams won multiple NAIA regional titles and made 14 NAIA national tournament appearances. He has more than 400 victories and has coached more than 200 players.

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on June 14, 2014.

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