Head Coach Jake Saulsbury
Entering his ninth year as the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Nebraska-Kearney in the fall of 2017, Jake Saulsbury has continued the program's long string of success.
Over his first eight years, he has compiled a 137-56 record on the men’s side while leading the women to a 144-64 mark. He is the winningest coach in school history (men's, women's and combined wins). image 3
In Saulsbury's tenure, both teams have made seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament, each reaching the Sweet 16 twice.
He has guided the women to three RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) regular season titles as the Lopers went unbeaten over a two-year period. The UNK women also won the 2010 RMAC Tournament.
Individually, 35 players (15 men and 20 women) have earned all-conference honors in singles while 30 doubles teams (16 men’s pairs and 17 women’s pairs) have been
Winning with a mix of American an International players, Saulsbury has also seen many of his Loper earn conference and ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) honors.
Vanessa Gunawan, a native of Indonesia, was tabbed the 2012 RMAC Player of the Year as well as the league's Academic Player of the Year.
Next, Kearney native Kristen Messbarger was chosen as the RMAC Freshman of the Year in 2007 and, as a senior, was named P.O.Y. Finally, Australian Katie-Mary Outhwaite was a two-time RMAC Academic Player of the Year.
On the men’s side, Jack Nicholson, from England, was selected as the 2012 RMAC Freshman of the Year.
In the fall of 2012, UNK qualified men's and women's players for the ITA National Small College Championships in Alabama with Josh Raymond and Yeswanth Nadella finishing as national runners up.
Two years later, Joey Richards and Lucas Garces finished second in the same tournament, this time held in South Carolina.
2014 SeniorsThe Lexington native has been named the RMAC Women’s Coach of the Year three times, the MIAA Women's C.O.Y. once and the ITA Central Region Women’s Coach of the Year once.
During Saulsbury’s first season, he guided the Loper women to an undefeated mark in league play en route to the RMAC crown. Messbarger led UNK to the RMAC tourney title while advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time.
The following year, the women repeated as RMAC regular season champs and finished second in the league tourney, ending a three-year title run. UNK also made a third straight NCAA trip.
On the men’s side, the Lopers advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in five years. This also marked their third straight NCAA trip.
Nadella led the Lopers while being a first-team All-RMAC selection and being named the ITA Central Region Rookie of the Year.
The 2011-12 academic year marked Kearney’s final year in the RMAC. The women went 6-0 to win the regular season title for a third consecutive year. They then won the Central Regional to advance to the Sweet 16 in Louisville.
The men also made it to Kentucky, beating longtime rival Metro State to record the program’s fourth Sweet 16 trip. UNK won 18 duals and finished as RMAC Tourney runners up.
The Lopers made their MIAA (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) debut with the 2012-13 season. Both teams qualified for the league tournament with the men recording 17 dual wins and the women posting 19.
Nine UNK players (five men and four women) earned All-MIAA honors with 12 Lopers qualifying for the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
In the spring of 2014, the both Loper squads returned to the NCAA's posting 20 (women) and 18 (men) dual wins. Both teams were regionally ranked throughout the season, knocking off several nationally-ranked teams along the way
Showing the strength of the team, 12 Lopers made the All-MIAA squad with two earning Central Region honors from the ITA.
In 2015, the Lopers combined for 42 dual wins as each squad returned to the NCAA's and were once again a factor in the MIAA regular season and tournament title races. Eleven different UNK players earned some type of all-league honors with Richards tabbed as the Central Region Rookie of the Year.
Before coming to UNK, Saulsbury spent the 2008-09 season as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, NW Missouri State.
As a Northwest player, he was a two-time first-team All-MIAA singles player. As a junior, he advanced to the ITA National Small College Championships in doubles and earned a national ranking.
He also won a Class B state title at Lexington High School
In his role as a Northwest GA coach, he was involved in all aspects of the program while helping the men’s and women’s teams advance to the NCAA’s. Saulsbury also worked extensively with the Bearcat Tennis Camp.
Saulsbury resides in Kearney with his wife, Ashley, who teaches first grade for Kearney Public Schools, and their children Jack, Charlotte and Adelyn.