Images from the Cardinals during the run to another BIG EAST championship.
Rex Ecarma is entering his 23rd season as head coach of the University of Louisville. During his time at U of L, the Cardinals have won five conference championships and have made nine NCAA regional appearances including four regional finals.
Additionally, Louisville has sent a doubles team to the NCAA championship six times since 2006 and a singles player six times since 1998 when Michael Mather first earned the honor. In 2010, Austen Childs finished runner-up in the NCAA Singles Championship for the first time in program history.
Ecarma's Cardinals are coming off of a 2012 campaign in which they captured their third straight BIG EAST Conference title and made their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance. The 2012 league coach of the year oversaw the Cards to an 18-10 record and helped guide three All-BIG EAST selections including conference Freshamn of the Year and Tournament Most Outstanding Player Sebastian Stiefelmeyer.
In 2011, coach Ecarma guided the Cardinals to their second straight BIG EAST Conference title and earned their third consecutive NCAA regional berth. Additionally, the Cards were ranked as high as No. 12 while appearing in the top 25 in 10 ranking periods.
The 2010 season will go down in the record books as the most successful season in Louisville men's tennis history. They broke records for most wins in a season (24) as well as fewest losses in a season (6). The Cardinals earned their highest ever ranking in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll at No. 10 during the season and finished the season ranked at No. 13, their best post season ranking.
Throughout the year, the Cards earned many firsts in program history including their first ever National Indoor Championship qualifier. They beat No. 29 Louisiana State and No. 32 Wisconsin to become one of the 16 teams to earn a bid into the finals.
The 2010 Cardinals earned another first when they became the first in the history of the program to win the NCAA regional championship and advance to the round of 16. While hosting the regional tournament, the Cards beat Eastern Kentucky and No. 23 Virginia Tech to reach the round of 16.
The 2010 season also proved to be a successful one for junior Austen Childs who became the most decorated player in Louisville history. Childs became the first Louisville player to play for a national championship, where he earned the national runner-up title. His remarkable run through the NCAA tournament was the first time any Louisville player ever made it past the round of 16. Childs finished his 33-12 season with numerous awards and honors including ITA All-American, BIG EAST Player of the Year, and U of L's adidas High Performance Athlete.
Coach Rex Ecarma also saw personal success during the record-setting season by being named BIG EAST Coach of the Year after the Cards' conference championship victory. He also recorded his 300th career victory as coach of the Cardinals on Feb. 27 as the Cards beat No. 38 Oklahoma State 6-1.
In 2009, Ecarma oversaw the Cardinals to a No. 22 post-season ranking. The Cardinals earned three All-BIG EAST selections and sophomore Austen Childs secured the conference Player of the Year honors. Austen Childs earned a spot in the NCAA singles championship and teamed with fellow sophomore Simon Childs for a doubles appearance. The duo also achieved the program's highest ranking at No. 6 and finished the season at No. 29.
In 2007, Ecarma led the Cards to a runner-up finish in the BIG EAST tournament and guided seniors Damar Johnson and Slavko Radman to Louisville's second consecutive appearance in the NCAA doubles championship. The pair also reached the program's highest doubles rankings at No. 7.
In 2006, the Cardinals opened their first season in the BIG EAST Conference by capturing the tournament title and earning their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance - the school's fifth appearance since 1998. U of L was also selected to host the 2006 NCAA first and second rounds for the first time in school history. They advanced to the second round of the regional for the second year in a row. In addition, the Cardinals won the 2006 HEB National Invitational and achieved the highest team ranking in program history at No. 12 and had three singles players and two doubles teams ranked.
The record-setting 2006 season, culminated in Ecarma being named BIG EAST Coach of the Year. In 2005, Ecarma posted his 200th career win, becoming one of the youngest NCAA Division I coaches to reach that milestone.
Ecarma was named Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2000 after guiding the Cardinals to their first ever conference title and their second NCAA tournament appearance in three years. Ecarma led the Cards to more overall team wins (162) than any other Conference USA team since 1996, the league's inaugural season.
In 1990, he became one of the youngest head coaches in Division I men's tennis in the country at the age of 23. Under Ecarma's tutelage, the school has attained its highest national ranking at No. 10 in the ITA computer rankings, while spending several weeks among the nation's top 25.
Fifteen of his former players have continued their careers professionally and earned ATP points at the Futures/Challenger lever. He coached former touring professionals Andy Schrecker, Russell Schutzman, Michael Mather and Cody Conley. He also coached former NCAA All-Americans Scott Campbell and Mather. Forty-three of his former players have gone on to become tennis coaches.
Ecarma, the 2000 Kentucky Tennis Association Coach of the Year, also received the honor in 1998 after he led the Cardinals to an 18-8 season and the program's first NCAA tournament appearance. Ecarma has been on the NCAA Tournament Regional Selections Committee four times. He was selected as the 2005 Chairman of the Conference USA coaches, a position which he also held in 2003 and 1997. He is currently serving on the Midwest Regional ranking committee.
Ecarma serves as the director of the national award winning Bass-Rudd Tennis Center, for which he designed the operations manual and business plan. Before the center was built, he was instrumental in sharing his vision of a facility with boosters and the university and hired the original staff. He also aided the development of the tennis center by raising money with the help of boosters, U of L officials and the Louisville community. The $3.75 million facility was constructed in his fifth season at U of L. Recently, Ecarma assisted in the development of the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center's outdoor court expansion, scoreboard and stadium seating.
Ecarma's successes are not limited to coaching. In November of 2000 he was given the Distinguished Filipino-American Award by the Filipino Medicine Association of Kentucky and Indiana. A sought-after motivational speaker, he was named among the Who's Who for Executive Managers in 1999. In 1998 he was named to the Business First's "40 Under 40" list as one of the top young leaders in the Louisville area. That same year, he was a member of the International Who's Who. Ecarma also earned the Outstanding Teacher Award in 1997-98, the Community Service Award in 1996-98 and the Mentor Appreciation Award in 1998.
The Doss High School graduate was introduced in the All-Time Outstanding Graduates of Jefferson County Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame with other Louisville athletes such as Wes Unseld, Darrell Griffith, Phil Simms, New York Knicks' star Allan Houston, Portland Trailblazers' Derek Anderson and former WNBA star Kym Hampton.
As a result of all of his coaching and playing achievements - as well as his involvement in the local tennis community - Ecarma was inducted into the Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame in February 2007.
Before embarking on his successful coaching career, Ecarma was a standout player for U of L. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother Reggie who was a letter winner for the Cards from 1980-82. Coach Ecarma is currently ranked second in the school's career doubles wins list with 92. As a junior, Ecarma compiled 58 total singles and doubles wins, placing him second in all-time combined wins in a single season. During his time as a player, he also posted 17 wins over players from top 25 teams.
During his senior year, the Cards qualified for the National Indoor Qualifying Team Championships for the top six teams in the Southeast. In 1987 they recorded the school's first ever win over a top 25 team, defeating SEC Champion and 25th ranked Auburn. Ecarma was runner-up in his position in the Metro Conference Individual Tournament in 1985 ad 1987 and placed third in 1986.
A Louisville native, Ecarma earned his Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Louisville where he was the 1987 recipient of the coveted Ed Kallay Award which honors the top student-athlete in the University. He earned a Master's Degree in Entrepreneurial Management from Regent University in 1995. In 1996 he married Melissa Guess. They have three children: Alexis (12), Xavier (10) and Landon (6)