Former head coach Rich Gugat experienced the kind of success that few know. Gugat, who recently announced his retirement as head coach, secured his place in Academy history as one of the greatest coaches ever -- in any sport.
Gugat compiled a 730-268 record in his 35 seasons at Air Force and only once failed to win at least 10 matches in a season. During the 2005-06 season, he became the fourth coach in Division I history to reach the 700-win plateau. Gugat, who was selected to the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004, began coaching at Air Force in 1974 and recorded 23 consecutive 20-win seasons between 1977 and 1999. He also led the Falcons to a 50-match home court winning streak between 1995 and '97.
After taking over the Falcon program in 1974, Gugat posted a 34-13 record in his first two seasons before taking a year off to complete a military assignment in Greenland. When he returned to the Academy in 1977, he reeled off 23 straight seasons of at least 20 victories, and his poorest winning percentage for any season during that stretch was .697 (23-10) in 1980. His teams won a school-record 28 matches in 1983 and '88, and he guided the 1993 squad to a 25-2 record, a winning percentage of .926.
The Falcons were hard to beat during the '90s, but it was almost impossible to defeat AFA at the Academy. The school-record 50-match home winning streak came during a decade that saw Gugat's teams produce an amazing 168-11 record at home.
One of Gugat's personal highlights was coaching Shannon Buck, arguably the best player in program history. Buck played in two NCAA Division I Singles Championships and was twice named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. He graduated in 2006 with the highest singles winning percentage in school history.
Gugat, the 1987 Western Athletic Conference coach of the year, has been the director of one of the country's most successful youth summer tennis camps--The Academy's Falcon Tennis Camp--for the last 30 years.
The coach got his first taste of athletic success at Del Mar High School in San Jose, Calif., where he was a two-sport star. Gugat was named to the all-Northern California basketball team and was runner-up in the Northern California high school tennis singles championships. He graduated in 1960 from Del Mar and began his collegiate career in both sports at UCLA. He lettered in freshman tennis at UCLA and three years of varsity tennis at San Jose State. He also played on UCLA's 1962 Final Four basketball team under another legendary coach, John Wooden.
Upon entering the Air Force in 1966, Gugat quickly established himself as one of the top tennis players in the service. He won the 1967 Air Force World Wide doubles title. He continued his fine play and captured numerous Air Force command tournaments and local United States Tennis Association titles, including the Southern Colorado singles and doubles championships.
Gugat's coaching career began in the service. He was player-coach of the 1967-68 and 1968-69 Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., basketball teams. Gugat led the group to the Aerospace Defense Command championships both seasons.
He also coached the United States Air Force Academy Prep School basketball team in 1971-72 and 1979-83, compiling a 119-51 record at the junior college level. He retired from the Air Force after 21 years of service in 1987.
Gugat earned his bachelor's degree from San Jose State in 1965. He later earned a master's degree from the University of Denver in 1973.
Gugat considers Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy home. He and his wife, the former Carol Lenz, were married in the Cadet Chapel in 1974. Carol is a psychotherapist with a private practice specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.
They have three daughters, Cara (33), Brooke (30) and Paige (27). All three were born at the Academy hospital, baptized at the Cadet Chapel, and are graduates of the University of Kansas. Cara, an elementary school teacher, and her husband, Steve, reside in Denver and welcomed a son, Reed Richard Havenar on Nov. 12, 2007. Brooke is an associate director for the MBA Career Management Center at DePaul University in Chicago, while Paige works in marketing in the financial services industry in New York City.
COACH GUGAT'S MILESTONES
First career victory - March 15, 1974; 9-0 vs. South Dakota State
100th victory - March 1, 1980; 9-0 vs. Univ. of Nebraska
200th victory - March 5, 1984; 9-0 vs. St. Cloud State
300th victory - April 22, 1987; 6-3 vs. Univ. of Colorado
400th victory - April 20, 1991; 9-0 at Regis University
500th victory - April 14, 1995; 7-0 vs. Portland
600th victory - Feb. 18, 2000; 4-3 at Point Loma
700th victory - March 18, 2006; 6-1 vs. Weber State
730th victory - March 22, 2009; 6-1 at Seattle Univ.
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