The United States Tennis Association Eastern released its annually awards earlier this month and Ithaca College, along with recently retired head coach Bill Austin, were recognized with the Collegiate Award, which is extended to a college for its community service efforts in connection with tennis and/or its contributions to the Tennis On Campus (TOC) USTA program.
Austin helmed the Ithaca tennis programs for over 20 years and retired in May. He and the Ithaca College tennis programs received this award for work with Unite for HER, the South Hill Elementary Mentorship Program, among other organizations.
Austin and Ithaca College also demonstrated exemplary leadership and actively helped to grow and promote the sport in the Ithaca community. The school has a vibrant TOC program and has also provided facility support for National Junior Tournaments hosted by the Reis Tennis Center (RTC). RTC notes that these tournaments would not be held or approved without the support of Austin and Ithaca College. In fact, they made it possible to run a big, prestigious event in Ithaca. At RTC, Ithaca students also help to run kids programs and fill in at the front desk on occasion.
During his time as head coach, Austin guided the tennis programs to more than 400 match victories during the 20-year stretch and 20 combined conference titles – 14 for women, six for men. Austin earned his 200th victory as the men’s head coach in 2018-19 and surpassed that milestone on the women’s side in 2016-17.
He guided the women’s program through a prolific run in Empire 8 competition, as the team secured 11 straight Empire 8 Championships in earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament from 2006-07 through 2016-17. He guided the IC women to their first trip to the NCAA Championships in 2006-07, defeating Simmons in a first-round match for the program’s initial NCAA playoff victory. In 2009, the Bombers returned to the NCAA regional semifinals and reached that round again. In total, the Bombers have posted a 6-11 mark in NCAA Tournament competition during the run.
Austin led Ithaca to 57 straight wins over Empire 8 opposition from 2004 through 2011, recording the longest conference winning streak in any Empire 8 sport since the league’s inception. He was named Empire 8 Coach of the Year four times on the men’s side and 11 times on the women’s side.
Austin is the winningest coach in the history of both the men’s and women’s tennis programs. On the men’s side he coached the program’s first All-Americans ever, the doubles team of Taylor Borda and Josh Rifkin.
Those interested in watching the awards program and can tune in at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, January 29 on the USTA Eastern’s Facebook page.