Learn a good forehand ground stroke from women's tennis coach Ryun Ferrell
Ryun Ferrell, a 17-year college coaching veteran, is in his seventh season at the helm of the Northern Illinois women's tennis program. Known for his program-building ability, Ferrell transformed Missouri Valley Conference member Drake to league prominence in his seven seasons as the Bulldogs' mentor, and is on his way to guiding NIU back to the top of the competitive Mid-American Conference ranks.
Ferrell is no stranger to conference titles, nationally-ranked players or postseason play. A native of Hiawatha, Kan., the 35-year-old Ferrell led Drake to the outright Valley championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2000, and a share of the conference title in the 2005 spring campaign. During his tenure, the Bulldogs recorded an 81-76 dual-meet record. He posted a 51-19 record in MVC dual matches, a .728 winning percentage.
Ferrell began re-building the Huskie program in 2007, and jumped out to a 4-1 record in dual-meet play, with wins over in-state foes University of Chicago, Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois. In MAC action, NIU went 1-7, but finished the regular-season with a 5-2 win over Akron. In 2010, the Huskies recorded a 3-8 overall record, and defeated Akron, 4-1, in the first round of the 2008 MAC Women's Tennis Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. In 2010-11, NIU went 2-17 and fell in the first round of the MAC Championships to Ball State. Last season, the Huskies went 11-12, 2-6 (MAC), for a seventh place finish, the highest in Ferrell's tenure.
Along the way in 2011-12, Ferrell had his first trio of 10-win players in a spring season with Mary Malkin, Haley Dekkinga and Nelle Youel. With Youel's 38 overall wins and Dekkinga's 36 last season, Ferrell coached his first set of players with 30 or more wins in a season.
One year after capturing the 2000 regular-season MVC title, Ferrell's Drake Bulldogs finished in second place in 2001. In 2005, Drake was the Valley's regular-season co-champion. He coached two doubles teams to league titles and four individuals won conference championships. A total of seven Drake players earned All-MVC accolades during his tenure, including the tandem of Eveline Rusidianto, and Irina Kalashnikova, who garnered first-team All-MVC honors in 2006.
Headlining his list of standouts was Cecily Dubusker, who was ranked as high as 83rd in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles ratings. During Ferrell's tenure with the Bulldogs, 10 different players accounted for 17 MVC Scholar-Athlete awards.
Ferrell has established a national recruiting base during his time with the Huskies, signing four players from four different states, including Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and New York.
"With Northern Illinois' outstanding academic reputation, I'm certain we'll be able to successfully recruit from anywhere, but the Midwest will be our home base. More than anything, we're looking for young ladies who are willing to work hard on and off the court. I like diversity in the team, but they would all be the type of women who take the initiative to make things happen in the classroom and as athletes. I'm a firm believer that anything can be accomplished with hard work," Ferrell added.
Prior to becoming head coach at Drake, Ferrell served as an assistant coach for Wichita State's women's program from 1997-99, where he helped the Shockers win three MVC crowns within a four-year period. During his time in Wichita, Kan., Ferrell served as a teaching professional and intern at the Wichita Racquet Club, where he helped develop juniors for tournament play, along with handling administrative work and producing revenue numbers for the management staff.
From 1996-97, Ferrell was the assistant men's and women's tennis coach at the College of New Jersey in Trenton, N.J., where he helped the women's team claim its sixth-consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference title and a No. 16 national ranking. Ferrell was also a teaching professional at the Princeton Racquet Club, serving as the junior development training coordinator and training junior tennis players for tournament play.
Ferrell broke into the coaching ranks in 1995 as a volunteer assistant for the women's program at Kansas under former NIU head men's tennis coach Chuck Merzbacher when the 1995-96 Jayhawks won the last of four-straight Big Eight Conference crowns, en route to the NCAA Championships. He also spent the summers of 1995 and 1996 assisting with the Jayhawk Tennis Camps. He continued his association with Merzbacher by assisting him at The Ohio State University Tennis Camps from 1998 through 2000, followed by two summers of work with the University of Notre Dame summer camp.
Ferrell attended Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., where he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1995. During his four-year tennis career, Ferrell lost just four singles matches, and earned an NAIA tennis scholarship at Baker. In addition, he competed for BU's track program.
During his time at Drake, Ferrell served as president for Llerref Enterprises, a Des Moines-based enterprise which promoted tennis clinics and tournaments in central Iowa. In addition, his resume' also includes serving as a teaching professional for the Des Moines Golf and Country Club plus the Waukonda Club. He is an active member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), United States Professiional Tennis Registry (USPTR), as well as the USTA Referee Association.
Ferrell, who also earned a master's in education with an emphasis on sports administration, is married to the former Deborah Gladow of Emporia, Kan. The couple have a six-year-old son Brody and three-year-old daughter Delaney.