Former Baylor volunteer assistant coach Pawel Gajdzik (pronounced PAH-vuhl GUY-check) enters his first season as the head men's tennis coach at Northern Illinois. He is the 10th head coach in school history.
"It is an honor to have been selected as the head men's tennis coach at Northern Illinois," Gajdzik said. "The school's high standards and commitment to academic and athletic success makes NIU a very exciting place to be.
"I look forward to building on this vision and to leading the tennis program to a championship level with the help and support of the athletic department and the community of DeKalb."
Gajdzik, who served as the volunteer assistant with the Bears since 2002, played a key role in Baylor's success during his tenure. The Bears advanced to the NCAA Tournament in all seven seasons, including their 2004 National Championship, and runner-up finish in 2005.
"Pawel is a wonderful addition to the Huskie family," said Director of Athletics/Associate Vice President Jeff Compher. "He knows what it takes to perform at a championship level, both as a coach and as a student-athlete. I am confident that great things lie ahead for the NIU men's tennis team."
While in Waco, Gajdzik mentored 2004 NCAA singles champion Benjamin Becker and 2005 NCAA singles champion Benedikt Dorsch. In all, Baylor had five All-American selections since 2003, and from 2003-07, had five consecutive top four finishes in the final ITA Division I rankings.
"There is no one coaching collegiate sports in America that is brighter or more passionate than Pawel Gajdzik," said two-time National Coach of the Year and Baylor Director of Tennis Operations, Matt Knoll. "His experience with a nationally competitive program at Baylor; together with his Ph.D. in educational psychology make him uniquely qualified to lead the Northern Illinois men's tennis program. I am sure that under his leadership great things are in store."
Gajdzik has already established an impressive recruiting base in his short time at NIU. He signed four international players to National Letters of Intent, including three for the 2009 season. Two of those players (Jurica Grubisic and Szymon Tatarczyk) have cracked the top-100 ranking list in the International Tennis Federation.
He is a master multi-tasker, as Gajdzik opened the PG Tennis Academy in Central Texas in 2005, while also teaching classes at both Baylor and Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas from 2005-08. Gajdzik is currently a doctoral candidate in educational psychology from Baylor.
Gajdzik still appears near the top of many of Baylor and the Big 12 Conference's individual records. He was named the 1998 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, and collected all-conference honors in both singles and doubles. During that season, Gajdzik's singles ranking reached as high as No. 17, and he also cracked the top-25 nationally in doubles. His 8-0 singles mark in conference play still stands as the best single-season mark in Baylor men's tennis history.
An Academic All-Big 12 selection in 1998, Gajdzik capped off his season by capturing the league's singles championship at the No. 3 position. He also teamed with doubles partner Johannes Michalsky to win the No. 2 doubles championship. The duo ended their career with a combined 43 doubles wins, the third-highest total in school history.
In 1999, Gajdzik was the No. 2 singles runner-up at the Big 12 Championships, garnering all-league accolades. One year later (2000), Gajdzik teamed with doubles partner Johann Jooste to garner the conference's No. 2 doubles title.
Following his senior season, Gajdzik served as the tennis professional at Walnut Creek Country Club, located in Mansfield, Texas. During his stay, Gajdzik was responsible for all junior development and travel team programs, while leading his squad to the USTA Junior Team Tennis Texas state championship and a berth to the National Tournament. Many of the junior competitors went on to earn collegiate tennis scholarships.
Gajdzik also brings an international flavor to DeKalb, as the Poland native competed for the Polish Junior National Tennis Team from 1989-97. He was also ranked on the ATP Tour as a player.
Gajdzik and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in DeKalb.