Gordie Ernst Named Rhode Island Women's Tennis Coach

By Atlantic 10 Conference

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Courtesy: Atlantic 10 Conference

KINGSTON, R.I. – New England Tennis Hall of Famer Gordie Ernst has been named as head coach of the Rhode Island women's tennis team, Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn announced Tuesday.

"We are thrilled to have Gordie Ernst join the URI Athletics Family as our new Head Women's Tennis Coach," Bjorn said. "Gordie is highly regarded in the tennis community and has had terrific success throughout his career. I really like the fact that he is a native Rhode Islander looking to continue his career back in his home state."

A Cranston, R.I. native, Ernst comes to the Rams after spending the last 12 years coaching both the men's and women's programs at Georgetown. On the men's side, Ernst coached the Hoyas to the Big East semifinals in 2017, the program's best finish in more than 25 years.

On the women's side, he rebuilt the program, taking over a last-place program and leading Georgetown to its first-ever national ranking. In 2013, he coached the Hoyas to a victory over No. 30 William & Mary, marking the program's first win over a nationally-ranked opponent. He also led the team to Georgetown's first-ever victories over DePaul and St. John's.

"I want to thank the Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn, Associate Athletic Director Patty Testa and the committee for this opportunity to become the head coach of the URI Women's Tennis team," Ernst said. "Throughout my life as a student-athlete and coach, I have had the good fortune to meet many great people and travel the world. While this has been hugely fulfilling, my heart has always remained in Rhode Island. I was born and raised in Rhode Island, my mother is the ultimate Rhode Island sports mom and enthusiast. My late father left huge shoes for me to fill as an inductee into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

"Accepting the head coach position is more than a homecoming for my family and me. It represents my ultimate life goal to bring all that I have learned about tennis, competition and sportsmanship back to the place where it all started for me."

During his 12 seasons at Georgetown, Ernst coached 35 All-Big East honorees and more than a dozen Academic All-Americans. One of his recruits, Victoire Saperstein, became the first Georgetown female to earn All-Big East honors in four consecutive seasons, and in 2017-18 she received Georgetown's Duffy Award as the school's top overall student-athlete. Ernst also coached Newburyport, Mass. native Kelly Comolli, who was the 2014 Big East Woman of the Year, the first Georgetown tennis player ever to receive the honor.

Ernst has a similar vision for success on and off the court for Rhode Island.

"I hope to build on URI's recent athletic and academic success and prominence," Ernst said. "I am committed to bringing a new spirit and standard of excellence to URI Women's Tennis that will give our team the experience of winning at the highest level. Our core values as a team will be: hard work and discipline, team spirit, passion and fun."

In addition to coaching the Georgetown programs, Ernst was the head tennis pro for the First Family of the United States dating back to 2009. He also fundraised more than $1 million for his program during his time with the Hoyas.

This will be the third head coaching position for Ernst, who was the men's head coach at Penn from 1998-2000. He was an assistant men's coach at Northwestern, helping the team reach a national ranking of No. 13 in 1997-98.

Ernst competed on the ATP Satellite Tennis Circuit from 1990-94. His career victories included wins over two-time tour singles champion Bryan Shelton and Kent Kinnear, a four-time doubles champion.

Ernst was inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame in 2015, and he also is a member of the Rhode Island Interscholastic Hall of Fame (2003) and the Cranston, R.I. Athletic Hall of Fame (2000). In 1985, he was drafted in the 10th round of the NHL Draft by the Minnesota North Stars. During his high school hockey career, he was part of two different teams to defeat the powerful, No. 1 nationally-ranked Mt. Saint Charles hockey program. Ernst was part of the Bishop Hendricken team that beat the Mounties his freshman year, and then again helped Cranston East beat Mount as a senior.

As a high school player, Ernst was the only player in Rhode Island history to win state titles in both singles and doubles in four consecutive years. In doing so, he did not lose a set along the way. From 1978-85, he was ranked No. 1 in New England USTA Junior Tennis five times and was ranked in the Top 25 nationally twice.

Ernst earned his bachelor's degree in Organizational Behavior and Management from Brown University in 1990. While at Brown, he played for both the tennis and hockey teams. He was the team's leading scorer in hockey during the 1989 season. He and his wife Lisa (McPhelim) of Carlisle, Mass. have been married 19 years and have two daughters, Olivia, 15, and Phoebe, 13.

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