BEREA, Ohio – Before he was ever called coach, Jack Bethlenfalvy first started off as an instructor at Baldwin Wallace University, offering classes in racquet sports such as tennis, badminton and racquetball.
After just one year as an instructor, however, he was approached about taking the head coaching position for the women's tennis team. That was 34 years ago, and, after seeing the program through its various highs and lows, Bethlenfalvy has announced his retirement, effective immediately.
In his 34 years at the helm, Bethlenfalvy amassed a career record of 390-300 for a .565 winning percentage. He retires as the winningest women's tennis coach at BW, in the Ohio Athletic Conference and in Ohio Division III collegiate history.
"It was just the greatest time," said Bethlenfalvy, who credits BW greats like Bob Fisher, Bob Packard, Larry Van Dusen and David Demmerle for teaching him about the culture of the school. "I always loved going into work. People say it's not work when you like it. I just wanted to be there all the time."
During his tenure, the Yellow Jackets captured four OAC regular season titles, won four OAC Tournament crowns and advanced to four NCAA Division III National Tournaments. Bethlenfalvy also notched the school's and the conference's first-ever women's tennis NCAA Tournament victory back in 2007, which capped off a school- and OAC-record setting season at 25 wins. The five-time OAC Coach of the Year also mentored three-time OAC Player of the Year and current BW Hall of Famer Andrea Isaac Zak '08, who is the school's all-time leader in singles, doubles and combined wins.
Along with working as a coach and a teacher, Bethlenfalvy also spent about 10 years working in the Lou Higgins Recreation Center until last year.
"We always knew our women's tennis program was in good hands with Jack in charge," said Director of Athletics Kris A. Diaz '78. "He challenged the women to be their best on the court and also in the classroom. He will definitely be missed and we wish him the best in retirement."
Prior to coming to BW, Bethlenfalvy built the tennis program at Parma Senior High School from 1968-1974 and then spent three years as the head professional at Big Creek Racquet Club. He also served as the head tennis pro at the River Run Racquet Club in Strongsville from 1977-1999 and was inducted into the Parma Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
A 1968 graduate of Kent State University, Bethlenfalvy was a standout men's tennis player as he finished his Golden Flashes career as a team captain, team Most Valuable Player, an All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) player and a MAC Champion. After his collegiate career, Bethlenfalvy still remained a ranked doubles player in Northeast Ohio.
Bethlenfalvy has been a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association Pro I and the United States Tennis Association since 1974.
He and his wife Sandy reside in Parma.
Baldwin Wallace University will be conducting a national search for Bethlenfalvy's replacement and more information will be available in the coming months. BW is a comprehensive liberal arts institution located in Berea, Ohio, a suburb 12 miles southwest of Cleveland with an undergraduate enrollment of 3,000 students. The University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.