Men’s Head Coach at Cal Poly
Eight years into his Cal Poly coaching career, Nick Carless has directed the Mustang men’s tennis program to 119 total victories, which includes a 32-9 mark during Big West Conference play.
Under Carless’ watch, Cal Poly has earned at least two All-Big West Singles First Team selections and one First Team doubles pairing in every one of his seasons.
2019 saw senior Josh Ortlip and junior Antoine Noel named First Team All-Conference in singles and Ortlip and senior Dominic Bechard were named All-Big West Doubles First Team selections. In 2018, juniors Dominic Bechard and Josh Ortlip were All-Big West Singles First Team selections. Ortlip and senior Axel Damiens were named to the All-Big West Doubles First Team selections.During 2017, the Mustangs had a tandem of seniors – Ben Donovan and Corey Pang – earn First Team singles honors as well as First Team doubles recognition.
As a team in 2019, the Mustangs finished 14-10 overall and 4-1 in the Big West for a second place regular season finish. In the Big West Tournament, the program advanced to its fourth straight championship match. The team finished the season ranked No. 71 in the ITA team rankings.
In 2018, Carless led Cal Poly to an 18-7 overall record, which included a trip to the Big West Conference Tournament Championship for the fifth time in the last seven seasons. The team was twice ranked in the ITA’s Top 50 teams, including an appearance at No. 44.
In 2017, Carless guided Cal Poly to an 18-8 overall record, which included a win over UC Davis in the Big West Conference Tournament Semifinals and a championship showing for the fourth time in the last six seasons. The Mustangs won eight consecutive matches during the season, opening play at the prestigious ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Cal. Cal Poly closed the season with an ITA national ranking of No. 49.
Individually, Pang won the ITA Southwest Region Most Improved Player Award after finishing his career with a school-record total of 109 combined dual singles and doubles wins (along with a .686 winning percentage).
Carless was selected as the 2017 and 2014 Southwest Coach of the Year by Wilson and the ITA, making him one of 12 head coaches across the country to receive the regional honor both times.
The 2014 season marked the second time Carless coached the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament as a team. In the first-round match at UCLA, Ben Donovan and senior Marco Comuzzo held third-set leads for Cal Poly against the two top-ranked players in the nation at the time the overall match was clinched by the Bruins.
Cal Poly embarked on a midseason stretch in which it won 11 of 16 dual matches, culminating in winning the Big West Tournament championship in Indian Wells.
Carless was named the conference coach of the year afterward, while Donovan earned the league’s Freshman of the Year award and five teammates joined him on the all-conference team. Three Mustangs earned the highest honors in singles, making Cal Poly the first Big West team in 19 years to have a trio of all-conference first-team members in the same season.
The postseason run came a year after the Mustangs rose to No. 45 in the national team rankings — up two spots from Carless’ first year back on campus.
In 2013, Andre Dome represented the program at the NCAA Singles Championships at Illinois, and earned All-American status by defeating Kentucky’s Anthony Rossi to make it to the Round of 16.
Also recently on Carless’ watch, Cal Poly renovated its facilities, as the seven-court complex benefited from a $250,000 project that included the installation of a state-of-the-art scoreboard.
Additionally, in the classroom, the team has received Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA in 2013 and 2014 for performing at a multi-year Academic Progress Rate that ranks in the top 10 percent of all collegiate men’s tennis programs in the country.
Carless began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant for the Pepperdine team that won the national championship in 2006. He then served as an assistant coach at Northwestern, helping to guide the Wildcats to a No. 60 final ranking. (While in Chicago, he also co-directed the Nike Tennis Camp.)
Returning to Malibu in the fall of 2007, Carless began a four-year stint as a full-time assistant for the Waves. In his five total seasons there, the program went 111-35 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament all but once.
Andre Begemann, Scott Doerner, Bassam Beidas, Omar Altmann and Sebastian Fanselow were among the All-Americans he coached at Pepperdine.
In his playing days at Cal Poly, Carless started as a freshman at No. 4 singles. In doubles, his Mustang teams went a combined 14-9 in dual matches. He transferred to Fresno State, graduating with a degree in kinesiology and exercise physiology in 2005.
Carless also previously instructed at the Malibu Summer Tennis Camp, and was the head tennis professional at the Visalia Racquet Club from 2004 to 2005.
Carless grew up in Visalia, graduating in 2000 from Golden West High School, where he was a three-time All-American and a Dean’s List student. As a youth player, he was ranked in the top five in northern California in each age division, and was slotted as high as No. 40 nationally.
“I’m a product of Cal Poly’s ‘learn by doing’ philosophy, and athletics is a prime example,” Carless said. “I look forward not only to coaching tennis, but also to being part of a program that develops young men into responsible adults who will enjoy rewarding careers and give back to their community. My goal is to make sure all of our players leave Cal Poly with a degree and a championship ring.”