Princeton men’s tennis team
Now in the 25th season of his college coaching career, Billy Pate is in his eighth season as the head coach of the Princeton men’s tennis team in 2019-20. He is regarded as one of the most respected and influential leaders in college tennis, underscored by his long history of instilling character-based values to his players.
Through his first seven seasons, Pate guided the Tigers to 114 dual-match victories and matched Princeton against 74 ITA-ranked opponents. During Pate’s tenure, Princeton has been ranked as high as 23 in February and March 2015, the program’s highest ranking on record since 1980.
The 2015 season saw Princeton return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998, gaining an at-large berth, and the team’s 19 victories were the third-most in a season in program history. Four seasons later, in 2019, Princeton tied the program record for wins in a season with 20, alongside the 1995 team.
Princeton players have earned 20 All-Ivy League selections in Pate’s seven seasons. In Pate’s first year, Matija Pecotic ’13 reached a ranking of No. 2 on the ITA national singles list while becoming the first three-time Ivy League Player of the Year in league history, as well as Princeton’s first All-America honoree since 1984. That year, Pecotic advanced to the second round of the NCAA singles tournament, becoming the first Tiger to win an NCAA singles tournament match since 1996.
Pate’s tenure has also seen Princeton qualify two teams to the NCAA doubles championship, in 2017 and 2019, with Payton Holden and Ryan Seggerman defeating the nation’s No. 4-ranked team in the first round to become the first Princeton pair since 2001 to win an NCAA doubles tournament match.
Prior to Princeton, Pate spent 10 seasons as the head coach at the University of Alabama, where he guided the Crimson Tide to seven NCAA tournament appearances.
Pate arrived at Alabama for the 2002-03 season and led the team to the NCAA round of 16 that spring. The Crimson Tide reached the NCAA tournament six more times and the round of 16 two more times under Pate’s tenure.
Pate’s Alabama teams were routinely part of the ITA national rankings, achieving a regular-season ranking of No. 9 in 2007. That season, Pate was named the ITA’s South Region Coach of the Year and the SEC Co-Coach of the Year.
In addition to recruiting domestically, Pate put together a long list of international recruits from 15 countries across four continents during his time at Alabama.
Prior to Alabama, Pate was an assistant coach at Notre Dame for two seasons, helping the Irish to NCAA tournament appearances in both seasons, yielding three NCAA tournament wins while earning the ITA’s National Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2002. The Irish achieved a national ranking of No. 4 during the regular season.
Pate spent five seasons, from 1996-2000, as the head coach at Georgia Perimeter College, winning NJCAA national championships in his final three seasons while being named the National Junior College Coach of the Year all three times as well as the USPTA National College Coach of the Year.
In addition to earning numerous coaching and playing awards, Pate has been intricately involved with the administrative side of tennis while serving on a variety of committees and boards. Currently, Pate serves as Co-Chair of the ITA Operating Committee, the ITA Executive/Budget Committee and the ITA Board of Directors.
Two of Pate’s former players, Pecotic (Princeton ’13) and Saketh Myneni (Alabama ’10) have gone on to great success on the ATP tour. Pecotic reached his career high singles ranking in 2015 at 206 and Myneni achieved a ranking of 113 in 2016.
A native of Hot Springs, Ark., Pate played collegiately at Mississippi State University where the Bulldogs advanced to the SEC final in 1991 and a round of 16 appearance in the NCAA Championships.
After graduating from Mississippi State University in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Pate worked with the Atlanta Thunder of World Team Tennis, earning his master’s degree in sports administration in 1995 from Georgia State University. At Georgia State, Pate served as president of the Sports Administration Club and as Graduate Assistant to the Director of Athletics, and in 2019, Pate was named to the ITA Board of Directors.