SEARCY, Ark. (HARDING) - Marco Ruiz will be the new head men's and women's tennis coach at Harding University.
Ruiz, 25, was hired Thursday by Harding Athletics Director Greg Harnden to replace David Elliott, who recently retired after 39 seasons with 1,136 career victories.
Ruiz, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was four-time All-Gulf South Conference for Harding from 2007-10. He had a 37-14 singles record and 36-27 doubles mark. Ruiz was Harding's graduate assistant beginning in 2010 and has continued to work with the program.
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity," Ruiz said. "It is a huge blessing in my life."
Harnden said that Ruiz's knowledge of the program was a key to his hiring.
"We really feel blessed to have Marco, with all he has learned from Coach Elliott, to come in and continue the success that the programs have had," Harnden said.
Elliott remembers Ruiz as a special player.
"He is the only player I have ever coached who never had a bad practice and never had a bad match," Elliott said. "Every day he came to practice ready to work no matter what was going on."
Elliott believes that the increase in Ruiz's responsibilities will lead to a smooth transition.
"He has gradually taken a greater role each year," Elliott said. "I gave him much more responsibility this year in terms of daily practice routines and what we needed to be doing. The players listened to him and have a great deal of respect for him. He has done an outstanding job."
"I know it is going to be very challenging, but I feel like Coach Elliott has prepared me very well," Ruiz said. "He is the best mentor I could ask for. I am very excited. Harding is the place I want to be."