Chris Drake, who served as head coach of the Dartmouth men’s tennis team the last nine years, is Yale’s new Cary Leeds Coach of Men’s Tennis.
During his tenure in Hanover, Drake guided the Big Green to three NCAA Championship appearances, including the last two seasons, and a 2018 Ivy League title, the school’s first since 1997. He was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2018, and he also earned ITA Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors in 2018. Drake mentored 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year Dovydas Sakinus and three Ivy Rookie of the Year selections – Sakinis (2014), Ciro Riccardi (2015) and Charlie Broom (2017). His overall record at Dartmouth was 136-79.
“I am delighted to welcome Chris, his wife Eliza, and his children to Yale and the great city of New Haven. Chris’ stellar reputation for taking programs to a higher level and his successful history within the Ivy League as a student-athlete and coach will elevate our men’s tennis program to new heights. I am very excited for our current student-athletes and alumni to get to know Chris and his family,” said Vicky Chun, Yale’s Thomas A. Beckett Director of Athletics.
“I would like to thank Vicky Chun and Ann-Marie Guglieri [Yale Deputy AD] for the opportunity to lead the Yale men’s tennis program,” said Drake. “I have known Coach Dorato for many years. He and his teams have always handled themselves with class. It’s an honor to take over for Alex and I look forward to working with the remarkable student-athletes that a place like Yale attracts.”
Drake is coming off a season at Hanover that included an NCAA Tournament appearance, part of a 15-9 overall (4-3 Ivy) campaign. His squad also took third at the ECAC Indoor Championships.
The Green went on to win the Rice Invitational following victories over Texas Tech, Utah State and Rice. Following a big 4-1 win over Harvard to end the regular season, Dartmouth received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, falling to Michigan in the first round. Drake helped Broom and David Horneffer to become the first Big Green duo to automatically qualify for the doubles tournament since 1976, while Broom also received an at-large bid to the singles tournament. Broom was named first team All-Ivy for both singles and doubles, Horneffer was first team for doubles and Dan Martin was first team for singles.
Dartmouth had its most successful season in 2017-18, going 20-6 and winning its first-ever ECAC Indoor title by taking down Monmouth, Princeton and Harvard. His team went 6-1 in league play, winning its first Ivy title since 1997, and getting the automatic bid the to the NCAAs, while Drake earned Ivy League Coach of the Year honors for the second time. He was also named Northeast Wilson/ ITA Coach of the Year after helping to produce three All-Ivy players and one ITA Northeast Player to Watch.
“I am grateful for my time at Dartmouth and would like to thank Harry Sheehy, Bob Ceplikas, Megan Sobel, Kristene Kelly and Dartmouth athletics for their support over the last 9 years. Mostly, I am thankful to all of the players I had the privilege to coach at Dartmouth. I am a better coach and person for my time with them,” said Drake.
Before coming to Dartmouth, Drake served as an assistant coach at Northwestern. The 2009 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, Drake was an instrumental force in elevating the men’s tennis program at Northwestern as the Wildcats’ recruiting classes in 2008 and ’09 were ranked 12th and eighth in the country, respectively, by tennisrecruiting.net.
In his second season with the Wildcats, Drake helped the squad improve to a 6-4 mark in the Big Ten to tie for fourth place. Overall Northwestern went 18-9 on the season, earning a national ranking as high as 48th, and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were successful on and off the court during Drake’s tenure, posting a team GPA of 3.5 in 2009 and a 1.000 APR in 2008 and ’09.
Drake also spent time coaching the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) doubles team of Eric Butorac (U.S.) and Ashley Fisher (Australia) in May and June of 2008 at the French Open and Wimbledon Championships. Before embarking on his collegiate coaching career, Drake was an accomplished player on the ATP doubles tour, achieving a world doubles ranking of 92. In all, Drake defeated 12 players who had been ranked in the top 50 of the ATP world doubles rankings and won six ATP Challenger doubles titles.
A 2003 Brown graduate with a degree in modern American history, Drake was a two-time unanimous selection to the 2002 and 2003 All-Ivy teams. He was a two-time captain, leading the Bears to NCAA Tournament appearances each year he captained the squad, in addition to guiding the team to its first Ivy League title in the program’s history in 2002.
“I am excited to get to work at Yale,” said Drake. “The support for tennis is clear from both the administration and the alumni. There is a great deal of infrastructure in place to run a program with championship standards and to give our players a world class athletic experience.”