Bert Poole has served as the head coach of Averett University’s men’s and women’s tennis program since July 2015.
Averett’s tennis resurgence continued in 2017-18 as the men’s team earned a regional ranking while finishing 14-6 overall and 7-3 in the conference en route to a USA South Conference Tournament semifinals appearance. On the women’s side that season, the Cougars continued to make strides as they won eight matches overall, including seven in the league. Between the two teams, he coached three all-conference selections, including three-time USA South Player of the Year Heidi Sarkkinen, who was regionally ranked in singles after going undefeated for the third consecutive spring and was named the 2018 Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) State Player of the Year.
The following season in 2018-19, Sarkkinen became only the second player in conference history to earn USA South Player of the Year all four years as Poole’s Cougars went 13-6 (6-2 conference) in one of the best seasons in the program’s recent history. Sarkkinen repeated as VaSID State Player of the Year. Averett advanced to the USA South Tournamnet semifinals. meanwhile, on the men’s side, Poole mentored Averett to another solid 10-win season and another conference semifinals appearance. Between the men’s and women’s teams, Poole coached five all-conference performers.
Poole’s 2019-20 teams were poised to continue their successful trend, but their seasons were cut short. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced all teams nationally to end the season, Averett’s men’s team was 5-0 and the women’s team was 4-0. Still, Poole was rewarded as the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) State Coach of the Year for men’s tennis, and he had one male and female student-athlete each earn all-state recognition.
Poole’s coaching success continued in 2021 as he guided the men’s program to a second-place finish in the USA South East Division while also beating three Division II teams. He coached three all-conference selections, including Jorge Figueroa, who was one of 32 selected nationally to play in the 2021 NCAA Division III men’s tennis individual championships. On the women’s side, he also coached three all-conference selections. During the 2021 season, Poole eclipsed 100 combined career wins between the men’s and women’s programs.
Poole has steadily grown Averett’s tennis programs back into conference contenders since his arrival. In his first year at Averett, Poole coached the men’s team to one of its best seasons in program history. The Cougars finished 14-4 overall and achieved as high as a No. 19 ranking in the region. The women’s program also flourished under his tutelage. The Averett women finished with six overall victories, the most by the program in more than a decade. Poole coached Sarkkinen, the USA South’s 2016 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, who went 16-0 at No. 1 singles and earned a regional ranking. Poole produced four all-conference performers — two on the men’s side and two on the women’s side.
During Poole’s second season at the helm in 2016-17, the men’s program finished as the USA South Conference Tournament runner-up after finishing second during the regular season. Meanwhile, he coached the women’s team to its best conference record in 16 years. On the men’s side, the Cougars earned a team regional ranking for the second year in a row, with its top doubles team also earning a regional ranking. He coached two all-conference performers, including the 2017 USA South Rookie of the Year. On the women’s side, he coached two all-conference selections as well, including the 2017 USA South Player of the Year in Sarkkinen, who went undefeated during the spring season for the second consecutive year.
Poole previously served as the assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Division II University of Mount Olive from November 2012 until taking the position at Averett. Poole was named Division II Men’s Tennis Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association following the 2015 season. While at Mount Olive, Poole has helped the Trojans produce back-to-back unbeaten records in Conference Carolinas regular season play and consecutive Conference Carolinas championships on the men’s side. Mount Olive also earned a berth into the NCAA Southeast Regional both years.
Poole is a USPTA Certified Tennis Professional with an Elite (highest) rating and has attained a Level I Sports Science Certification from the USTA. In addition, he is certified by the USTA High Performance Coaching Program. During his 30-year career, Poole has served as the tennis director at several country clubs. He also was the men’s tennis head coach at Guilford College from 2006-2007 and helped the team improve to a 10-6 mark after going 0-11 the previous season.
A native of Aston, Pennsylvania, Poole earned his degree in history from Mount Olive in 2013.