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Women's tennis head coach Sheila McInerney retires after 40 years

The longtime Sun Devil head coach led ASU to 36 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and was twice named Pac-12 Coach of the Year

ASU women's tennis head coach Sheila McInerney talks to her team after a doubles round against NAU at Whiteman Tennis Center on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, in Tempe. ASU won 4-0.

Legendary ASU women’s tennis head coach Sheila McInerney is retiring after four decades of building one of the most successful women's tennis programs in the country.

The lifelong Sun Devil coach retired on Tuesday after 40 seasons leading the team. McInerney was the longest-tenured ASU coach in any sport and one of the most accomplished in the University's history.

"Four decades of my life have been dedicated to Sun Devil women's tennis and Sun Devil athletics, and I am very thankful for those that made it a wonderful time," McInerney said in a statement to Sun Devil Athletics. "There have been countless student-athletes, assistant coaches, and staff who have helped me and I plan to take time now and thank as many as I can."

Before taking the ASU job, McInerney was a four-time All-American player at USC and won three national championships with the team. She then played professionally and appeared at Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open. Her playing career even included a match against Billie Jean King at the 1977 U.S. Open. 

McInerney returned to USC as a graduate assistant coach under her former head coach Dave Borelli, then was named ASU's new head coach when she was just 25. 

Since that day, McInerney has tallied almost 600 match wins and has been named Pac-12 Coach of the Year twice. Perhaps her greatest accomplishment is taking the Sun Devils to 37 NCAA Tournaments in 40 seasons, including 36 straight appearances to end her tenure.

"No retirement in coaching is easy, because there is much I will miss, and that includes some great people, but now is the time for me to step aside and watch Sun Devil Athletics in a different way," McInerney said in a statement to Sun Devil Athletics. "The changing landscape in college athletics is a perfect time for our program to move forward in a new direction and no one understands that better than me."

McInerney kept her NCAA Tournament streak alive in her last season as a head coach. ASU advanced to the second round of the tournament after beating Northwestern but fell 4-1 to Pepperdine. The tournament loss concluded another winning season for McInerney and her 40-year career.

READ MORE: ASU women's tennis returns to winning ways ahead of Pac-12 tournament

"Next up for me is to play some pickleball and learn some golf … and I expect to be at Papago and the Mickelson practice facility a lot," McInerney said in a statement to Sun Devil Athletics. "Coach Missy (Farr-Kaye) and Matt (Thurmond) are now in charge of making my swing better."

There has been no formal announcement as to who will replace her as the women's tennis head coach.

Edited by Henry Smardo, Sophia Braccio and Alexis Heichman

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