After wrapping up his fifth season as the women's tennis coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, it is clear Matt McCaskill has already made his distinct mark on the program.
Through the dedication and enthusiasm he brings to the team on a daily basis, he immediately made the team more competitive. Now, based on the results so far, it looks like McCaskill is poised to achieve even greater things at UWM.
The 2008-09 season saw the Panthers again reach double figures for wins while Kelly Drvaric claimed All-Horizon League honors for the third-straight season.
The 2007-08 season was a second-straight record setter for the Panthers. The team set a new Division I school record for wins (14) while capturing a fifth-place finish in the Horizon League. That finish equaled the second-best in school history and came on the heels of a 2006-07 season that saw UWM win 13 dual matches and capture that same fifth-place finish.
In all, UWM's 37 victories over the last three seasons are more than the team had in the previous eight seasons combined.
McCaskill entered the collegiate coaching ranks in the middle of the 2004-05 season at UWM, knowing he faced the daunting task of turning the program around. After going winless that first season, UWM won four matches in 2005-06 and it was clear the program was on the right track.
"I knew what I was getting into," McCaskill said. "I knew there was a lot of work to be done and that I was going to be building the program from scratch. But there was no question the key to getting things started was going to be recruiting, and I hit the recruiting trail running."
That work on the recruiting trail led to three-straight stellar recruiting classes. The latest one will add three players for the 2009-10 season, giving UWM a 10-person roster.
"I think we are deeper as a team, when it comes to the talent we have assembled" McCaskill said. "But the Horizon League teams are improving and getting deeper, too. Plus, we are a team of seven, so we must stay healthy."
McCaskill has spent the last 19 years working in the private sector of the tennis industry. During the summer months, he is the Director of Tennis at the Racine Country Club. He has coached numerous nationally-ranked players, helping them earn college scholarships, and has been selected as a United States Tennis Association Zonal Coach for the Midwest and Missouri Valley sections. He is also a United States Professional Tennis Association Certified Tennis Professional and a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff.
As a player, McCaskill was a state champion at Desmet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, Mo. He played tennis collegiately at Marquette University and Saint Louis University and then won the USTA National 5.0 Tournament at Flushing Meadows, NY, in 1998.
McCaskill's teams are also succeeding in the classroom. The program boasts a 100 percent graduation and retention rate while posting better than a 3.4 cumulative grade-point average through this past fall semester. Plus, four players were named to the Horizon League Honor Roll this past spring while the Panthers also earned a spot on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's All-Academic list in both 2007 and 2008. Four players also earned ITA Scholar-Athlete recognition.
"My goals for this program have always been three-fold," McCaskill said. "I want to help this team be competitive in the Horizon League, succeed in the classroom and be prepared for life's challenges upon graduation."
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Matt and his wife, Kelley, reside in Whitefish Bay. They have two daughters, Madeline and Lauren.