With a commitment to family, community and the game of tennis, Illinois State men's tennis coach Greg Kennett has been able to bring his knowledge of tennis into the community that he grew up in and to the ISU campus. For Kennett, it is all about the student-athlete and the relationships he builds with each and every one of his athletes. He has coached athletes from around the world and as close to him as his own hometown. It is no wonder that a man who has brought so much to his team has given even more back to a game that he has been playing for more than two decades.
His expertise has not gone unnoticed, as Kennett was awarded Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors for the 2005-06 season, his second such honor. His leadership skills led the Redbirds on a record-breaking season, as Kennett and his team swept the conference, 7-0, enabling the `Birds to clinch their first ever regular-season conference title. Kennett also led his team to a 13-match winning streak; another first in ISU history.
Kennett's resumé continues to expand. Entering his seventh year as head coach, he has accumulated many coaching accolades: including four MVC individual champions, three MVC doubles champions, five MVC Scholar-Athletes and 12 all-conference selections.
Under Kennett's direction, Illinois State has had winning seasons in six years, garnering 102 wins in his seven years as head coach.
Not only has the Valley recognized his knowledge of the game, but Kennett has also been selected as a member of the NCAA men's tennis selection committee. This prestigious committee is responsible for selecting the 64 men's teams in singles and doubles entries that will compete for the opportunity to play for a national championship. The selection committee meets in Indianapolis, Ind., the weekend before selections are announced. This committee is also responsible for all of the events that take place as well as making sure all teams competing are eligible. It is a large commitment and honor to sit on this committee.
Kennett is no stranger to the game of tennis. The Redbird head coach has been part of winning programs since his days at Bloomington High School. In high school, Kennett captured the state's doubles championship in 1985.
After high school, Kennett continued his playing career at Eastern Michigan. After two successful seasons, he transferred to Illinois to complete his collegiate career. At Illinois, he continued to demonstrate his leadership abilities and was named team captain as a senior. In 1991, Kennett graduated from Illinois with a bachelor's degree in political science.
After graduation, Kennett continued his playing career. From 1989-1992 Kennett competed in satellite tournaments and played with the St. Louis Aces of the Professional World Team Tennis Leagues in 1997.
Prior to his first collegiate coaching job, Kennett had the opportunity to coach some of the highest ranked junior players in the nation as the senior professional at St. Louis' prestigious Creve Coeur Racquet and Paddle Club.
In 1997, Kennett broke into the collegiate coaching ranks and the rest is history. That year, Kennett took over the reigns at Division III Washington University in St. Louis. During his two-year tenure, Kennett's teams went a combined 35-9, which included six wins against Division I opponents and one player making it to the Division III national-title match.
Kennett also has extended his knowledge to other youth tennis players around the Midwest. Since 2000, Kennett has coached the United States Tennis Association Middle Illinois Junior Davis Cup team during the summer months. He also guided the USTA Area Training Team in St. Louis from 1997-99, and the USTA Missouri Valley Sectional zonal 12's and 16's team from 1995-98.
Kennett and his wife, Christie, Director of Government Affairs at State Farm, have two children: Andrew, 12 and Audrey, 8.