Longtime VCU Tennis Coach Paul Kostin, who molded the VCU Men’s and Women’s Tennis programs into national powerhouses and once led the Rams to within a victory of a national championship, announced his retirement Tuesday.
“I am grateful for Paul’s 30 years as tennis coach, teacher and mentor to VCU’s student-athletes,” said VCU President Dr. Michael Rao, Ph.D. “As coach, Paul guided the tennis teams to national prominence. As a teacher and mentor, he guided student-athletes to promising futures beyond the court and classroom. Coach Kostin is VCU, and we will all miss him. I wish him well in his retirement.”
Kostin amassed 1,179 victories, second in NCAA history, in a 39-year coaching career that included a successful nine-year run at his alma mater, Arkansas-Little Rock. He took over VCU’s non-descript men’s program prior to the 1990-91 season and assumed the reigns the women’s team in 2001-02. In the years since, Kostin won 910 matches and led the Rams to 38 NCAA appearances and 29 conference championships. Kostin’s VCU teams finished the season ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Top 25 on 14 occasions.
“Coach Kostin created and solidified the standard for championship excellence within VCU Athletics,” said VCU Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin. “He has taught so many of us how to focus on the important details and not lose sight of the strong connection between academic success and athletic achievement. The impact he had on the people who have played for him and graduated onto successful lives far outweighs the massive number of wins, conference titles and NCAA appearances.
“All of our coaches and administrators, including me, have learned from him and will miss him dearly. I know that I have become a much better administrator because I have worked with him. We wish him all the best as he and his family get to spend well-deserved time together.”
Under his direction, VCU players claimed 18 ITA All-America awards, including Paola Exposito Diaz-Delgado in 2019. In 2000, men’s standout Daniel Andersson was selected as the ITA’s National Senior Player of the Year. Anderson also claimed a pair of ITA Grand Slam singles titles, while the doubles pair of Frank Moser and Florian Marquardt captured the 2000 T. Rowe Price National Clay Court Championship. Additionally, three players earned Academic All-America honors under his watch.
In 2000, Kostin steered the men’s team to five consecutive NCAA Tournament victories on the way to the National Championship Match. The Rams finished the season ranked ninth nationally, the program’s highest ever, and Kostin was crowned National Coach of the Year by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).
The women’s program reached the NCAA Elite Eight in 2002 and the Sweet 16 in 2006 under Kostin’s leadership. The 2006 squad won its first 29 matches and finished the season ranked 12th nationally.
In the three seasons prior to Kostin’s arrival in 1990, the VCU Men’s program won 13 of 59 matches. He promptly led the Rams to a 22-5 mark and a runner-up finish in the Sun Belt Conference in his first season. The following year, Kostin directed the Rams to their first-ever conference championship and a No. 25 national ranking. VCU reached the NCAA Tournament every year from 1993-2008, and the Rams claimed nine straight Colonial Athletic Association Championships from 1996-2004.
He took over a successful women’s program from a retiring Eva Bard in 2001-02 and catapulted the Rams to new heights. Kostin’s 19-year stint at the head of the women’s program included 16 NCAA Tournament appearances and 10 conference titles. VCU has won six Atlantic 10 Conference women’s championships in seven years since it joined the league in 2012-13.
Prior to VCU, Kostin steered Arkansas-Little Rock’s men’s and women’s programs from 1981-90. Kostin led back-to-back NAIA National Championship squads on the women’s side in 1984 and 1985, which earned him consecutive National Coach of the Year awards. His Arkansas Little-Rock teams combined for 13 conference titles.
In 39 seasons, Kostin forged a 1,179-435 record, a .731 winning percentage. Overall, his teams racked up 38 NCAA Tournament appearances and 42 conference championships.