Longtime Denison University tennis coach Peter Burling has announced his retirement after leading the men’s and women’s programs to unprecedented success over the last three decades. The two-time National Coach of the Year leaves Denison as the winningest coach in school history, across all sports, with a career record of 734-329 (.690).
“Who would have thought that a 36-year-old junior development pro with dream jobs on Cape Cod and in San Francisco would end up spending the next 30 years as a college coach in the middle of Ohio,” said the ever-affable Burling. “From my very first season in 1990, I knew I was blessed.”
“I would like to thank Ted Barclay for hiring me. The transition from developing 18-and-under players to coaching 18-21-year-old men and women was seamless. To me, coaching and teaching are one and the same. I transitioned from preparing kids for college tennis to receiving them and attempting to take them further. I could have taught tennis anywhere, but the entire Denison community is what made this career so special.
“I am extremely proud of what the men’s and women’s tennis teams have accomplished during my stay. I would like to thank Peter Homorody, who was by my side for 17 winning seasons, and Jamie Scott, who served as my assistant before transitioning to head coach of the women’s team. Jamie is doing a phenomenal job. Many thanks to Athletic Directors Larry Scheiderer and Nan Carney-DeBord for their support in coaching the sport that I love. I am so excited to see where this program will go in the future. I will truly miss the daily interaction with my colleagues, but the lifelong relationships we have formed are in stone.”
Burling arrived at Denison in the fall of 1990 as the head men’s tennis coach, a team he has led consecutively for 30 seasons. He spent the 1992-93 season as the interim head women’s tennis coach. That team qualified for the NCAA’s for the first time and finished the year at #9 in the nation. He then resumed the role fulltime in 2000. That stint lasted until 2017 when his assistant coach, Jamie Scott, took over the reins of the women’s tennis program. Under Burling, Denison tennis has consistently been one of Division III’s most successful programs and his student-athletes have been high achievers in the classroom and on the court. Four former student-athletes; Brian Maebius (1993), Cameron Vincent (2002), Meridith Sulser (2005), and Kristin Cobb (2011) were honored with the prestigious National Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
As Denison’s head men’s tennis coach, Burling totaled a career record of 421-194 (.685) while leading Denison to seven North Coast Athletic Conference championships and two, top-10 national finishes. The men qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships eight times under Burling and enjoyed a five-year run as conference champions from 1997-2001. Eleven men’s tennis players achieved All-American status from the ITA during his tenure. He was named the NCAC Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year seven times.
While leading the women’s tennis program for 19 seasons (1992-93, 2000-17), Burling accumulated a record of 313-135 (.699). In 2004, he was named the ITA National Coach of the Year and in 2005 the United States Professional Tennis Association honored him with National Coach of the Year accolades. His women’s teams won 11 NCAC Championships highlighted by a run of 10-straight titles from 2002-11. In 2008, the Big Red placed third in the nation, marking the highest finish by a Denison tennis team. That squad set the program record for wins (22) and advanced to the NCAA Final Four while the team of Kristin Cobb and Marta Drane reached the NCAA Doubles Final.
Overall, Denison women’s tennis posted eight top-10 national finishes and six appearances in the NCAA Quarterfinals (Elite Eight). Burling was honored by the NCAC 11 times as it’s Coach of the Year, running his grand total of NCAC Coach of the Year awards to 18 across both genders. Twenty-three women received ITA All-American accolades in his career and in 2009, multi-time All-American Meghan Damico was named the ITA Senior Player of the Year.
“Peter is a master at teaching the game of tennis,” said Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Nan Carney-DeBord. “His body of work is outstanding and aligned with our core value of competitive excellence. His commitment to the holistic growth and development of each student-athlete throughout his tenure has been admirable. In addition to his coaching prowess, Peter has been a wonderful department member, always first in line to help when needed. We are very appreciative of all he has done for his student-athletes. His legacy will live on and Denison tennis is a national contender because of his efforts.”
A native of Orleans, Massachusetts, Burling has been a USPTA Level I Professional for 30 years. He has taught the game to thousands of young players as a teaching pro around the nation and through his highly successful Nike Tennis Camps held each summer on the Denison Tennis Courts in Granville.
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