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Stan Dlugosz completes 35 years as MCCC coach

June 11, 2007 10:29 PM

If there’s ever a contest to see who exceled at and coached the most sports, Stan Dlugosz would be in the running. His lifetime accomplishments on the field and court are extraordinary, and his teaching and coaching careers equally so. Now approaching 70, the Mercer County Community College men’s tennis coach is stepping down after 35 years at the helm.

Before taking up tennis in his late 20s, Dlugosz played football in middle school, basketball in high school, was a professional soccer player, and played semi-pro baseball. He is also an avid skier and a 41-year member of the ski patrol at Mount Snow in Vermont, his second home. He has coached baseball, basketball, soccer, and tennis at Mercer (and other venues) and attributes much of his coaching success to having all those athletic experiences.

“I have terrific memories. I played basketball against Wilt Chamberlin, soccer against Pele, and tennis against Pancho Gonzalez. I’ve coached kids from all over the world and it’s been fun. Coaching is in my blood,” said Dlugosz, who started when it was Trenton Junior College. “But a couple years ago I started thinking that I don’t have as much energy as I used to have and they need some young blood in here.”

Dlugosz’ other love is teaching civil engineering, which he did from1962 at Mercer until he retired as a full professor in 2000. He was not able to walk away entirely and continues to teach one night a week. He will not separate himself from the tennis team either. Dlugosz cares about the program that he built from scratch and wants his hands in it, so he intends to help his successor, particularly with things like eligibility and academic procedures. Marc Vecchiolla, the women’s coach, is a logical candidate to assume the men’s team but a decision has not yet been made.

 

He could also teach the next coach a thing or two about recruiting. Dlugosz is forever scouting. Whether it’s a league opponent or someone he sees hitting on the wall, he meets a lot of locals and tries to get them on the team. He coached many players who went on to become successful teaching pros. He brought in soccer players and taught them how to play. When he played in the senior leagues, seniors were his target.  He once recruited the late Matt Hahn who got to the regional finals at age 70. “Everbody who I play against or I see,” said Dlugosz.

 

“Tennis has become a big part of my life, even though I played all those sports,” he said. “I wish I would have played when I was a kid.”

 

But when would he have had time? While playing pro soccer with the Philadelphia Ukranians, they won the national championship three times. He played soccer in Europe. He started the soccer team at Mercer and coached it for 20 years, leading the team to two national championships. He competed in soccer until 46 years old.

 

Dlugosz grew up in the Philadelphia area and was heavily recruited for soccer by many of the top institutions in the country, but he settled on Drexel where he became an All-American and later helped coach baseball and soccer. He received his masters’ degree at Lehigh.

 

Soon after he was introduced to tennis, Dlugosz knew the sport was going to be a big part of his life and he plunged in full force. He met a lot of new people, including his wife Nancy and his best friend Marty Devlin, also a star athlete who took up tennis later in life. After just a few years playing, he already had his first tennis job teaching at Greenacres Country Club. Dlugosz played singles tournaments and leagues and doubles events with Devlin. He became a fine player; he and Devlin were once ranked No. 9 in the country in the 55-and-over division. At Mercer, he ran summer clinics and leagues. And he taught classes all over the east coast with Devlin.

 

Although still competing in singles and doubles, athletics took a toll on his body. Dlugosz has a hip replacement and a fused ankle, and then had a hip revision two years ago. Nevertheless, he’s hoping to play some 70s doubles events with Devlin this year.

Dlugosz just returned from Plano, Texas, where his team competed in the national championships. They finished in 8th place, not the team’s best showing. That was last year when they finished third in the country. He estimates that his teams have qualified and gone to nationals about 25 times. His final win tally in dual matches is 297. It was ironic and fitting that, in his last season, he coached Devlin’s son Kyle, who was the No. 1 singles and doubles player on the team and All-American last year.

“Stan is an icon at the college,” said athletic director John Simone. “He was an outstanding soccer coach, developed the program, and then found a passion for tennis. Since day one, men’s tennis has been successful. Until this day, Stan is very competitive, works hard and that certainly reflects in the program. More importantly, he has addressed the etiquette and sportsmanship of players and how they represented the college. I respect and appreciate that.”

 

 

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