When you think UCSC sports, think Bob Hansen, former head coach of the UC Santa Cruz men’s tennis team. After having been the backbone of Slug tennis for over 30 years, Hansen has made the move to Vermont to take over as head coach of the Middlebury College men’s tennis team.
Hansen was in attendance on Saturday as friends and family gathered at the University Center to celebrate his time at UCSC.
Bob Hansen founded the UC Santa Cruz tennis program in 1977, just two years after graduating from San Jose State University in 1975. He went on to lead the Slugs to national championship glory, capturing the school’s first-ever national crown for any sport. The legendary tennis coach has racked up seven NCAA Division III national championships over his storied career at UCSC.
Among Hansen’s seven national championships were milestone accomplishments in 2005 and 2007. The former marked UCSC’s first triple-crown victory, winning the championship in team, individual and doubles divisions. In 2007, the Slugs continued their domination, winning the indoor and outdoor team championships.
Hansen said he could not be more grateful for his time at UCSC.
“My experience coaching at UC Santa Cruz was brilliant, inspired, compelling, fun and totally rewarding,” Hansen said. “I loved it from start to finish.”
Hansen’s coaching has been noted throughout the nation. He is a four-time National Coach of the Year Award recipient and has appeared at 19 NCAA Team Final Four appearances.
Matt Seeberger, former Slug triple-crown champion and current assistant coach, knows Hansen best for his passion and his positive approach.
“Bob has a level of positivity and love beyond comprehension,” Seeberger said. “He can take the best of every single situation and relate it in such a way that it speaks directly to your heart.”
Seeberger recalled a time when Hansen’s encouraging spirit saved his tennis career.
“In my first year under Bob, I hit the lowest point in my life I could remember,” Seeberger said. “I was underperforming in every area one could imagine and was ready to quit the team. Without hesitation, Bob took me aside, came down to my level and uplifted me in an unimaginable way. He knew what needed to be done, and he did it with love.”
Current junior Slug team member Sam Rodgers had similar praise for Hansen.
“Bob is such a special person because he cares so much about each and every player,” Rodgers said. “He has had such a great influence on me and everyone he’s had a relationship with. Bob invests all he has into his players, and that kind of love and dedication is unmatched.”
Hansen described some of his countless memories from his time at UCSC.
“I have had so many memorable moments at UC Santa Cruz,” Hansen said. “Winning the 2005 NCAA team title at UCSC and being the first-ever team to win the triple crown would have to be up there. It was fun to win it all in front of the hometown crowd with my friends and family there to watch.”
For over 30 years, Bob has been the tennis director for the Nike Tennis Camp held at UCSC every summer. He plans on returning to Santa Cruz in the summer to continue to run the program.
With Hansen’s departure has come the appointment of former assistant coach and member of the 2005 national championship team, Bryce Parmelly, as head coach. Rounding out the coaching staff are assistant coaches Matt Seeberger and last year’s No. 1 Slug player and recent graduate Bryan Pybas. Along with Parmelly, Seeberger and Pybas are former members of the national championship UCSC tennis teams.
Over his career at UCSC, Hansen has transformed the tennis program from non-existent to larger than life. Player Sam Rodgers said he is blessed with the opportunity to be a part of it.
“Slug tennis has given me more than I ever dreamed of and continues to do so.”
Although Hansen will no longer be coaching tennis at UCSC, his legacy in slug athletics will remain.