EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State head men’s tennis coach Gene Orlando announced his retirement on Saturday. The winningest coach in program history with 361 victories, Orlando just completed his 31st season at the helm of the Spartans and was the longest tenured men’s tennis coach in the Big Ten Conference.
“I would like to thank the late George Perles for the opportunity 31 years ago to be the men’s head tennis coach at Michigan State,” Orlando said. “It has been an incredible run and one that I will cherish the rest of my life. I would like to thank all my former players, assistant coaches, alumni and our extended Spartan Family for their support and friendship over the years. Most importantly, thank you to my incredible wife Janice and my family for the incredible sacrifices they made on a daily basis to make this all possible.You were truly my inspiration and my motivation was to make you all proud.This chapter ends, but my next chapter will find me courtside doing my part to move our Spartan Tennis program forward! Michigan State’s best tennis is ahead of us and I wish all the best for the next coach who steps into this role.God gets all the Glory for my 31-year career. “
“I want to thank Gene for his commitment and dedication to the Spartan family for more than 30 years,” said Michigan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller. “He has made a positive impact on the lives of Spartan student-athletes for decades, both on and off the court, who have gone on to make a difference in our society. Gene is one of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet – he truly cares about his players and their well-being – and created a culture of excellence in the classroom, winning the Athletic Director’s Award (highest team GPA) a record number of times in the department.He represented Michigan State with class and dignity as a coach and in the community. We wish Gene and his family all the best in his retirement. “
Orlando led the Spartans to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013, and four doubles teams competed at the NCAA Championships under Orlando in addition to four singles qualifiers. His student-athletes also earned All-Big Ten honors 21 times. In 2015, Harry Jadun and John Patrick Mullane became the first doubles team to earn All-America honors at Michigan State, advancing all the way to the national semifinals. The Spartans also won a school single-season record 18 matches in both 2011 and 2012.
A trademark of the Michigan State program under Orlando was an outstanding success in the classroom. In his tenure, there were a total of 148 selections to the Academic All-Big Ten team, including three ITA Academic All-Americans (Aaron Murray, 1996-97; Mark Findling, 1999-2000; Adam Hourani, 2002-03). The Spartans were also recognized as an ITA All-Academic Team 11 times.
The men’s tennis team won the Athletic Director’s Award for a fourth consecutive year and a record 16th time overall at the Spartan Academic Excellence Gala this spring for posting a department-high 3,702 grade point average. Four students compiled a perfect 4.0 GPA, including senior Carson Gates, who was a co-recipient of the President’s Award for having the highest GPA among graduating seniors in the athletic department. In winning the Athletic Director’s Award in 2020, the Spartans set a record with the highest cumulative GPA (3,812) since the inception of the award in 2001.
Michigan State went 15-14 overall during the recently completed 2021-22 campaign, including a first-round Big Ten Tournament win over Purdue on Thursday. Senior Jack Winklerwho did not compete the past two seasons while medically sidelined, completed a remarkable comeback this season and was named first-team All-Big Ten to lead the Spartans.
Orlando was also very active in the community during his career, and was recognized by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) with the Brad Parks Award in 2017 for his outstanding contribution in helping grow wheelchair tennis at the local level. In addition, he coached players who went on to win matches at all levels, including three-time Paralympian Bryan Barten.
Orlando came to MSU in the fall of 1991 from Bowling Green, where he spent three seasons guiding the Falcons. He played collegiate tennis at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, helping the Cardinals to four MAC championships during his career. In September 1997, Orlando was inducted into the Ball State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, on Aug. 23, 1965, Orlando earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Ball State in 1987. His family includes his wife, Janice, daughters Magalene Elizabeth and Gabrielle Marie, and son Vincent Alden.