In four seasons at the helm of the NIU Men's Tennis program, Pontus Hiort has led his teams to a 48-43 overall record in match play, including an 18-6 mark in his first year. Last season, Hiort's senior-less team finished with a 10-12 record and advanced to the semi-finals of the MAC Men's Tennis Championships for the third year in a row. His Huskies have posted double-digit win totals in three of his four seasons.
Hiort began his coaching career at Northern Illinois University as a volunteer coach in 1997-98, and ultimately became the head men's tennis coach in 2003-04. Hiort did double-duty as the head coach for the NIU women's tennis team from 2004-06.
In Hiort's first season as the head coach of the NIU men's program, the native of Sweden led the Huskies to an 18-6 overall record, a national ranking as high as 73rd and their second consecutive berth in the Mid-American Conference Championship match. The run to the MAC summit included NIU's first victory over perennial league power and tourney host Ball State since April 20, 1974.
Hiort followed up his highly-successful rookie campaign with a solid 13-10 record season in 2005 where he coached one of the greatest individual performances in the history of NIU men's tennis. That season, Wily Gali (2004-05) recorded 31 singles victories, the third-highest single-season total in school history. Gali was named First Team All-MAC, earned The Vredevelt Sportsman of the Year Award and was the first player in NIU men's tennis history to be named MAC Player of the Year.
Upon losing key contributors like Gali, the 2005-06 men's tennis team found itself in a rebuilding mode that saw a true freshman ascend to the No. 1 singles position for the Huskies. Under Hiort's able tutelage, freshman Brian Livingston became one of the most successful first-year singles competitors in the history of the program. Hiort guided Livingston to a 20-win season, garnering second team All-MAC honors and the MAC Newcomer of the Year trophy.
Throughout the course of the 2006-07 season, Hiort and the Huskies endured a challenging schedule as they squared off against four nationally-ranked opponents, including the 38th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, en route to a 10-12 record in match play. The young team struggled early but bounced back to finish the season strong by winning four of the last six matches, including a first round victory over Buffalo at the MAC Championships.
Hiort has tutored some of greatest tennis players in NIU men's tennis history, including Gali and Livingston. Throughout Hiort's tenure as head and assistant coach, he has worked with seven different players that earned All-MAC notoriety, three Vredevelt Sportsmanship Award winners, two MAC Newcomers of the Year and one MAC Player of the Year.
During his time as former head coach Steven Rodecap's right-hand man, Hiort helped lead the Huskies to three consecutive winning seasons starting in 2000-01. He was on hand as NIU charted new territory by making the school's first appearance in the MAC championship match in 2003-04 after upsetting Western Michigan University on NIU's very own Gullikson Courts in the league semifinals.
A veteran of major tournaments in his native Sweden as a player, Hiort brought extensive tennis knowledge gained as a competitor. In fact, Hiort at one-time earned a ranking of No. 89 in Sweden.
On the collegiate level, Hiort played No. 1 and No. 2 singles for Murray State University from 1992-96 and garnered All-Ohio Valley Conference honors while also earning the 1996 OVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor.
Hiort received a Bachelor of Arts degree for history and German in 1995. He completed his master's degree in history from MSU in 1997 and earned a Ph.D. in history from NIU in 2007.