SPOKANE, Wash. – The man who served as Whitworth's men's tennis coach for 20 seasons has announced his retirement.
Mike Shanks, whose tenure as the Pirate men's tennis coach is the second-longest in school history, will step away from the courts and six-year assistant coach Cameron Williams will step into the role.
"I am so grateful for Mike's long-time leadership of the men's tennis program," said Tim Demant, Whitworth's Director of Athletics. "His dedication to, and care for, his student-athletes was unwavering. As a humble leader, Mike never sought the limelight, but his impact on the many players he coached leaves an incredible legacy. Whitworth and the men's tennis program is indebted to him."
Shanks was the 2005 Northwest Conference Coach of the Year. He guided the Pirates to the NWC tournament eight times. Shanks also served as the director of programs for the Scotford Tennis Center, overseeing lessons and community events at the facility.
After 20 years, Shanks knew the time was right to make this decision.
"I would really enjoy coaching this group of guys for one more year," he said. "However, I want Cameron to have total influence over the recruiting class that will replace next year's three seniors. He will do a fantastic job in shaping the promising future of the Whitworth men's tennis program."
Shanks is a former board member of the Spokane Junior Tennis Development Association and a former national verifier for the United States Tennis Association's USA League Tennis Program. During his playing career, Shanks ranked as high as sixth in the men's 35 singles and #1 in the men's 35 doubles in the Pacific Northwest.
Williams was one of Shanks' best players. He was Whitworth's top singles player in 2013 and earned All-Northwest Conference recognition in 2012 and 2013.
"When I first started helping with the team in 2014, it was merely something I wanted to do to because I had the time, and it gave me an opportunity to keep playing a bit of tennis," Williams said. "However, my passion for working with these guys quickly grew and I absolutely love watching them work and succeed. I believe I have a pretty good knack for bringing out the best in them on the court and I'm excited to continue growing my coaching acumen."
Williams has been the assistant coach for the Pirates since he graduated from Whitworth.
"Promoting Cameron from assistant coach to head coach was an easy decision," Demant said. "As a standout student, player and assistant coach, Cameron exemplifies everything that we want our men's tennis program to represent. His care for others, his competitive spirit and his understanding of the game at the collegiate level will allow Cameron to continue to be successful in this next phase of his career."
Only Whitworth Heritage Gallery Hall of Famer Ross Cutter served longer as the Pirates' men's tennis coach than Shanks. Cutter coached men's tennis at Whitworth from 1959 through 1991 (33 seasons).
"The influence that Mike has had on me over the past 10 years has been tremendous," Williams said. "He's helped make me the person I am today and I know I have some big shoes to fill. I am so thankful for all that he has done for this program and he will be dearly missed."