Hall of Fame player? Hall of Fame coach? Hall of Fame tournament director?
All three? Meet Mark Riley.
In 1980, the transfer student (University of Pittsburgh) chose K for its academics and tennis program. He majored in economics, studied abroad in Madrid, and for his SIP did a feasibility study of an indoor tennis facility, from ownership to construction and operation.
And he excelled in tennis. In 1981 and 1982 he was All-MIAA (league MVP in 1982), undefeated in MIAA match play, and a key member of teams that finished number three and number two, respectively, in NCAA Division III. He captained the 1982 squad, the year he was ranked number 12 (singles) and number seven (doubles), and the same year his D-III seventh-ranked doubles team toppled the number one ranked team (in Division I, no less!), the University of Georgia.
Maybe that’s no surprise, because during Riley’s playing tenure, the Hornet tennis squad claimed victories against D-I programs such as Notre Dame, Michigan State, Miami (Ohio), Georgia, Western Michigan University, Middle Tennessee State, Penn State, and Kent State.
After graduation, Riley played professionally and held Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world ranking for four years (1984-88). He made his Grand Prix debut in 1986.
Riley’s coaching career is equally distinguished. At Drake University (1994-96) his squad was conference runner-up. At Kansas (1996-2000) Riley’s team was ranked ninth by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and finished second in the Big Twelve Conference. His University of Pennsylvania teams (2000-07) earned two Ivy League titles and two Eastern College Athletic Conference crowns.
Under Riley, the Kalamazoo College Hornets have won 10 conference championships. Riley was named Northeast Region Coach of the Year (D-I) in 2006, and Central Region Coach of the Year (D-III) in 2017, the same year he was inducted into the University of Pennsylvania Tennis Hall of Fame and received the USTA Blue Ribbon Tournament Director Award.
He has directed the USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships since 2008 and served on many committees and boards, including, among others: the NCAA D-III Men’s Tennis Committee (national chair), the USTA Junior Competition/Sportsmanship Committee, the USTA Collegiate Varsity Committee (vice chair), the ITA Board of Directors, and the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo Board of Directors.
His favorite memories of K? “Time with teammates on long road trips in ‘the Checkers,’” he says. “Learning from the wisdom of professors (Romeo) Phillips, (Nora) Evers, and (Fred) Strobel, and, of course, my time with Coach Acker.
“The K-Plan,” he adds, “taught me how to work hard, work smart, and make time to live graciously. The latter,” he smiles, “always a work in progress.”