TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- After 31 years at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and over 40 years at various levels, Dan Hopkins will retire as head coach for the Fightin' Engineer men's and women's tennis programs at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.
Hopkins will complete his tenure at Rose-Hulman as the most decorated tennis coach in program history. His efforts have led the Rose-Hulman men's and women's teams to a combined six NCAA Division III tournament appearances and seven Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championships since 2010.
Hopkins has a Rose-Hulman men's tennis coaching record of 300-276, highlighted by an 81-16 record against HCAC competition and trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament in each of the last four seasons. The 2019 team begins HCAC play this weekend on a 39-match winning streak, including four consecutive HCAC regular season championships and four straight league tournament titles. Rose-Hulman has not lost a match against HCAC opposition since May 2014.
In women's action, Hopkins completes his career with a record of 159-138. His efforts helped the Fightin' Engineer women's tennis capture two regular season HCAC women's tennis championships and make NCAA Division III Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2017. His regular season record against HCAC women's competition stands at 86-25.
"I have been very fortunate to have had Dan Hopkins guide our men's and women's tennis programs for the last 30-plus years. As great a coach as Dan has been, he is even a better person who truly cares about the student athletes and is probably prouder of their accomplishments off the court then on it. Although Dan's job here was a part-time role, he was a full-time coach and achieved remarkable accomplishments with both the men's and women's teams with multiple conference titles and NCAA tourney appearances. He took our program to heights that had never been reached and might never be again," said Rose-Hulman athletic director Jeff Jenkins.
"Dan's commitment to Rose-Hulman men's and women's tennis student-athletes is a true testament to his dedication. Until his recent retirement, Dan served a role as a full-time Vigo County school teacher, so he would teach the entire day spend all his evenings and weekends coaching our men's or women's teams. Never one to complain, he would drive the bus to all away matches and several trips to Florida. Dan will be truly missed and we sincerely thank him for the dedication and commitment to Rose-Hulman and our tennis programs," added Jenkins.
Hopkins career includes 17 seasons as the boys tennis coach and nine years as girls tennis coach at Terre Haute South High School. He guided the boys' teams to the Final Four of the state tournament in both 1980 and 1983, and led the 1980 girls' team to a second-place finish in the state. He was also named Indiana Coach of the Year in 1992.
A winner of over 900 career matches at various levels, Hopkins currently has an overall career record of 907-559 in his 41st season of coaching.
"(Former athletic director) Gene Mitz hired me in 1989 to give the team some pointers and make them a little better. They asked to play a few local matches and improve the team. Over time, we made improvement slowly and became slightly better every year. Two players helped redefine our tennis program and made our recent success possible, so I cannot thank Jose Penaloza and Brandon Benedict enough for coming to Rose-Hulman and showing us what the men's team could achieve," said Hopkins.
Hopkins was one of the founders of the Terre Haute Junior Tennis Association in 1986. As a result of his coaching, teaching, and operation of the Indiana High School Tennis Association, he was inducted in the Indiana High School Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998.
As a player, Hopkins is currently nationally ranked in his age group by the United States Tennis Association. He is also nationally ranked in the emerging sport of pickleball.
"With regard to the women's program, I wanted to start a team from scratch and see what could happen. The goal was to improve numbers and increase our skill level. We brought the program forward incrementally and certainly had some great moments on the women's side," said Hopkins.
Following his retirement as head coach, Hopkins plans to spend much of his time in Arizona, Colorado and British Columbia, along with his family. He also plans to play in a number of tennis and pickleball tournaments to improve his national ranking. In addition, Hopkins expects to help out the Rose-Hulman tennis program on a volunteer basis from time-to-time as he is available.
Hopkins remembers two specific days as his favorite matches as Rose-Hulman tennis coach.
"The most exciting men's match we ever had was the NCAA Tournament win over Wheaton in 2017. Proving that we could not only compete, but win, in the national tournament was extremely rewarding. I'll also never forget our winning the first HCAC women's championship match that put them in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. We looked at each other in amazement that we set a lofty goal and accomplished it," said Hopkins.
Hopkins is a 1974 graduate of Terre Haute North High School, with bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana State University (1978, '83). Dan and his wife, Christine, have adult children Andy and Julie. Julie earned a bachelor's degree from Rose-Hulman in 2016.