Ned Caswell: Professional Player and Successful Coach
Ned Caswell’s life story was almost titled “Hoop Dreams.” If not for a basketball scholarship to Furman University, the Atlanta native might not have had a Hall of Fame tennis career. It may seem strange now, but Caswell, the General Manager and Director of Tennis at the Manker Patten Tennis Club in Chattanooga, Tenn., went from starting guard on the Furman Men’s basketball team to a two-time All-American tennis player at Furman.
Caswell was named the Southern Conference MVP, reached the NCAA singles quarterfinals in 1987 and in many ways put Furman on the tennis map.
“I never aspired to this growing up,” said Caswell, who lettered in both sports at Furman, winning the Southern Conference singles title in both 1986 and 1987.
When Caswell talks coaches and coaching, the talk always turns to his coach at Furman, Paul Scarpa. Scarpa was himself inducted into the USTA Southern Hall of Fame in 2006, but Caswell freely admits his success was because of Scarpa’s leadership and patience.
“He took me from a walk on that should have probably been cut from his team as a freshman to the top of college tennis, while only playing part time because of basketball.”
Caswell graduated from Furman in 1987 with a degree in business administration, but the “real world” would have to wait as he set his sights on the ATP Tour. He turned professional and trained at Nick Bollettieri’s academy in Florida, and that began paying dividends immediately.
Even though he had success at Furman in college tennis, there was some question as to how Caswell would fare against the best players in the world. A stint on the USTA Junior Davis Cup team in 1987 with Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Malivai Washington, Jeff Tarango and David Wheaton was a confidence builder. He finished fourth at USTA Satellite #5 in 1988, earning 20 ATP World Tour points.
In 1989, Caswell jumped up the world rankings. A move from No. 583 to 250 and ending the year at No. 284 gave Caswell a chance to play ATP Challenger events, and he responded with semifinal showings at Lagos and Itu-Sao Paulo. He also reached the quarters at Nairobi and was a doubles runner-up at Coquitlam.
This gave Caswell an opportunity to play bigger ATP World Tour events and bring his ranking up to No. 200. Caswell notched wins over the likes of Sampras, Patrick McEnroe and Tim Wilkison.
One of Caswell’s most memorable matches was a loss to John McEnroe in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of the 1989 Canadian Open played in Montreal.
After his professional career, Caswell turned his attention to coaching and developing players. He took the Anderson (S.C.) College team to the junior college national championship in 1992 and has led Baylor (Chattanooga) girls’ tennis to numerous TSSAA titles. He’s also won 16 gold balls on the national senior circuit. Caswell has held the No. 1 world ranking in singles and doubles in men’s 35s, for 1999-2000. He was the world champion in singles for 1999 and doubles in 1999 and 2001.
Caswell has also garnered his fair share of coaching honors. In 2010, he was named Best of Preps Coach of the Year. He also was named National Coach of the Year twice while leading Anderson College to the 1992 National Junior College title.
Always coaching, Caswell helped develop the tennis games of his twin daughters, Harper and Samantha. The Caswell daughters each played college tennis, with Harper at Furman and Samantha at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. They earned All-Southern Conference honors.
He has brought that same “family first” attitude to the club he’s been at for 20 years. Caswell made Manker Patten a place not just for great tennis but a club where families can come and spend time together. Caswell has brought a strong junior progran to Manker Patten along with a proven staff.
Caswell resides in Lookout Mountain, Ga., with his wife, Wendy.
Ned Caswell, Tennesse & Georgia, Inducted in 2017
- Two-time All-American at Furman (S.C.) University, reaching the NCAA individual singles quarterfinals in 1987. He also graduated with a degree in Business Administration
- Southern Conference MVP
- Member of USTA Junior Davis Cup team in 1987 with Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Malivai Washington, Jeff Tarango and David Wheaton
- Career-high ATP World Tour ranking of No. 200
- Professional wins over Pete Sampras, Patrick McEnroe and Tim Wilkison
- Has won 16 gold balls on the national senior circuit and held the No. 1 world ranking in singles and doubles in Men’s 35s, for 1999/2000. World Champion in singles for 1999 and doubles in 1999 and 2001.
- 2010 “Best of Preps” Coach of the Year
- Twice named National Coach of the Year while at Anderson College