Joel Roberts, who led Presbyterian College men’s tennis to a Big South regular season and tournament title in 2017, as well as its first NCAA Appearance, returns to his alma mater as the next women’s coach. Presbyterian Athletic Director Danny Sterling made the announcement Friday, April 26.
“I couldn’t be more excited about coming back to Presbyterian College,” said Roberts. “PC was a fantastic place for me for four years and I can’t wait for future Blue Hose to get to experience everything PC has to offer. I just want to thank Dee Nichols and Danny Sterling for the opportunity and I can’t wait to get started. Go Blue Hose!”
Roberts, who majored in History and minored in Secondary Education and Athletic Coaching, finished his career fifth in PC’s Division I history in doubles wins with 52 and was third in PC’s D1 era in doubles wins in a season with 14. He ranks just outside the top 10 in career singles wins (31) and ended his career 10th in doubles winning percentage (.553).
As a senior Roberts was named to the second team All-Big South doubles with Ben Kelley and was a team captain. He led PC to its second Big South Regular Season title, first Big South Tournament title and first NCAA Tournament appearance. That season he went 16-11 in doubles play, primarily at No. 1, all with Kelley and also recorded an 11-7 singles record. He finished that season winning four of the last five doubles matches, as well as going unbeaten, 3-0, in doubles action in the Big South Championship. He led at No. 1 doubles against No. 11 Texas in the NCAA First Round before falling 7-5.
“It is always a pleasure when a former player comes back to coach at their alma mater,” said Sterling. “Getting someone as talented as Joel (Roberts) makes it even better. He was a tremendous athlete at PC and translated that experience well as an assistant at perennial tennis power Wingate these last two years. Coach Roberts exemplified the ideal PC student, and will recruit and develop student-athletes who fit that mold on and off the court. We are excited to welcome him back to the Clinton community and PC.
In his first year at Wingate in 2018, Roberts helped lead both Bulldog teams to impressive seasons.
The Wingate men won both the South Atlantic Conference regular season championship and tournament title, moving all the way up to sixth in the ITA national poll, the highest ranking in program history. The Bulldogs went 20-6 overall and 9-1 in league play, picking up a 5-0 victory over #13 USC Aiken in the NCAA Tournament opener.
The Bulldogs women’s team went 21-5 overall and 10-0 in league play, capturing their eighth straight regular season SAC title and sixth consecutive undefeated season. Wingate will enter next season riding a 69-match SAC winning streak. The Bulldogs earned the number two seed in the NCAA Southeast Regional, hosted the regionals for the first time in program history and picked up their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. The Wingate women were ranked as high as 12th nationally.
2018 saw Wingate earn the SAC Player of the Year in men’s and women’s tennis, with Daniel Belsito becoming the third Bulldog to win the honor on the men’s side and Michela Verpelli giving the Bulldogs their first SAC Women’s Tennis Player of the Year since 1990.
Currently in Roberts’ second season, the Wingate men’s team recently took home the 2019 SAC regular season and tournament championship, while the women’s team earned the 2019 SAC tournament championship and recently cracked the ITA top 10 for the first time in program history, ranking 10th in the most recent poll
As of this week, the Bulldog men’s team is 19-4 overall and 19-2 against Division II opponents after going 9-1 in league play. Belsito is currently 21st in the nation in singles play. The women are currently 21-1 on the season and are looking to earn hosting duties in the NCAA regionals for the second straight year and second time in program history.
In high school through his junior year, the Summerville, S.C., native and All-Lowcountry selection in 2011 and 2012 was the sixth-ranked prospect in South Carolina. The team captain three out of four years, Roberts played at the No. 1 or No. 2 spot for Pinewood from his seventh grade on, earning the Most Outstanding Player award in 2012 after collecting All-Region and All-State honors in 2010 and 2011.