Hawaii men’s tennis: John Nelson retires after 16 years as UH coach

UH announced the retirement of 16-year coach John Nelson on Thursday. / Graphic courtesy UH athletics

Sixteen-year Hawaii men’s tennis coach John Nelson has retired, UH announced on Thursday.

Nelson led UH to WAC tournament titles in back-to-back-to-back years (2008, ’09, ’10), and the 2014 Big West regular-season title.

In terms of program ranking, UH topped out under Nelson at No. 35 in the ITA poll in the 2010 season. UH also beat Oklahoma State in the NCAA team tournament first round.

Two players earned conference player of the year honors under Nelson: Dennis Lajola (2011) and Jonathan Brooklyn (2014). Four earned conference freshman of the year honors — Sascha Heinemann (2006), Andreas Weber (2007), Lajola (2008), and Andre Ilagan (2019).

In Nelson’s final spring season, two-time HHSAA singles champion Ilagan, a Farrington alum, put together a singles record of 12-8. However, the Rainbow Warriors struggled to a 7-12 (1-4 BWC) record as a team, and were one-and-done in the Big West tournament.

Nelson, the 2008 WAC coach of the year, said in a UH release: “I have been blessed having a career doing what I love to do. The best memories are the friends and relationships I’ve made while coaching. The future for UH men’s tennis is very bright. This upcoming team is very talented and should contend for the conference title.”

Nelson previously coached at San Diego State, UC Davis and Cal State Hayward.

The only active, longer-tenured coaches at UH are:
>> Andy Johnson, sailing, 29 years
>> Bob Coolen, softball, 28 years
>> Ronn Miyashiro, men’s golf, 21 years
>> Mike Trapasso, baseball, 18 years
>> Mike Baker, cheerleading, 17 years


  1. H-Man August 17, 2019 10:26 am

    Nice guy. I remember coach coming over to talk to us cart guys at Ko’Olina Golf Course.

  2. burro sabio August 17, 2019 7:29 pm

    Retiring just before the school year begins is rather odd.

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