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Sam Clarke
Sam Clarke comes to Lenoir-Rhyne from Cornell.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Announces Hiring of Clarke to Lead Tennis Programs

Vice President of Athletics Kim Pate has announced the hiring of Sam Clarke as the head coach of the Men’s and Women’s Tennis programs. Clarke brings four years of collegiate coaching experience and was most recently the assistant coach of Cornell’s women’s tennis program.

“I am thrilled to welcome Sam Clarke to our LR Family,” said Pate. “Coach Clarke is a tremendously talented leader and rising star in the collegiate coaching ranks. I have had the privilege of watching him develop as both a player and coach dating back to his time as a student-athlete and most recently during his time at the University of Charleston. He has been under some great mentoring and has a true passion for coaching and developing student-athletes to their full potential on and off the court.”

During the 2022-23 season, Clarke coached Lan Mi, who was nationally ranked in the Top 125 and was named All-Ivy League. Before Clarke’s coaching stint in Ithaca, N.Y, he was a volunteer assistant coach for Maryland’s women’s tennis program.

“I cannot thank Kim Pate enough,” Clarke said. “She has given me the opportunity to continue my dream career. I am grateful for all the incredible mentors I have had at Springfield, Charleston, Maryland, and Cornell, that have helped me both professionally and personally.”

Clarke’s coaching career began at the University of Charleston where he spent three years as the assistant coach of the men’s tennis program. During his time at Charleston, Clarke was named the 2022 and 2021 Assistant Coach of the Year and led the Golden Eagles to back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament.

In addition, Clarke led Charleston to back-to-back regional and conference titles while also coaching John Giesberts and Dani Llorente who were respectively named 2021 and 2022 Atlantic Regional Athletes of the Year.

Before Clarke’s coaching career, he was a four-year player at the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he leads the program with most all-time wins. In addition to his on-court efforts, Clarke was named the 2019 Male Athlete of the Year, 2019 GLVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and an Academic All-American.

Clarke graduated with a master’s in strategic leadership in May 2022 and a master’s in business administration in December 2020 from the University of Charleston. He also earned an undergraduate degree in Business Administration in May 2019 from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

“At LR we have the best programs, staff, athletes, facilities, and community fan base in the country,” said Clarke. “It is now our job to work to also become the best tennis programs in the country.”

Clarke hails from Kendal, United Kingdom; son of Sue (Mom) and Nigel (Dad) Clarke; younger brother to Ben.