Keith Puryear enters his sixth season as the head coach of the Navy women's tennis team, taking a program that was a club team just five years ago to the Patriot League Tournament finals in each of the last three seasons.
Puryear has taken the Navy women's tennis program from a club power into a force in the Patriot League in just two short years. He owns a career 523-325 record (men's and women's teams), including a sizzling 80-22 mark at Navy. The Midshipmen are 60-10 in matches played in Annapolis. Puryear needs just five more wins (295-149) to record 300 wins on just the women's side.
With his first full recruiting class serving as the team's leaders as seniors, Puryear's squad compiled a 25-5 record, setting a school record for wins. After starting the year with a 2-3 record, the Midshipmen ran off a school-record 17 straight wins and would finish the year by winning 23 of its last 25 matches. The Midshipmen reached the Patriot League Tournament finals for the third straight year and finished the year ranked 10th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Atlantic region rankings. Three players earned all-Patriot League accolades, including 2013 grad Emani Decquir, who was honored as Navy's first major award winner, the Patriot League Player of the Year.
Puryear would wins his 500th career match early in the year in a 7-0 blanking of Atlantic 10 power and during the Mids' win streak, Navy recorded victories over regional powers Richmond, Drexel, James Madison and Delaware.
Two years ago, Puryear guided the Midshipmen back to the Patriot League Tournament finals with a 20-3 overall mark and a 4-0 Patriot League regular-season record while earning the tournament's top seed for the first time in school history. The team ran off 11 straight wins to start the season and finished a sterling 15-1 at home while four players earned all-Patriot League accolades. For his efforts, Puryear was named the Wilson / ITA Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. He accomplished all of this with a lineup that included zero seniors.
In 2011, Puryear led the upstart Navy women's tennis program to the Patriot League Tournament finals and a 3-0 Patriot League regular-season mark. The Midshipmen finished the year with a 22-10 record, starting the season with an 11-4 mark, then winning nine of their last 10 matches. Three members of the squad were named to the all-Patriot League team and Puryear was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year by his peers.
In 2010, with a line-up that featured four freshmen quite regularly, the Midshipmen posted a 13-4 overall record, a 2-1 Patriot League mark and a trip to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals.
Three of his five recruiting classes have been honored as top mid-major classes by the website, TennisRecruiting.net, and several student-athletes have earned academic and national honors, including 2013 grad Stefanie Ton, who was named the Atlantic Region's recipient for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award.
Prior to arriving in Annapolis, he won over 440 dual matches while coaching both the men's and women's team at UMBC. His Retriever squads won 11 conference titles from 1998 to 2007 and he has won almost 60 percent of all his dual-meet competitions.
When it was announced in October 2008 that Navy was going varsity in women's tennis, Navy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk had his man in mind.
"Coach Puryear brings to our midshipmen a wealth of successful experience and documented winning ways," said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. "Meeting him is to be immediately impressed. Everyone is very enthusiastic about Keith joining the academy family. His philosophies resonate the fundamental values and academic aspirations of our programs and his expect to win mindset will be just what we need to jumpstart our new varsity women's tennis program."
"I would like to thank Chet Gladchuk for giving me the opportunity to start the women's tennis program at the Naval Academy," said Puryear. "I know the rich history of Navy athletics, so it is an honor to be given this opportunity. I am looking forward to the challenges presented by all of the schools in the Patriot League. My staff and I will work hard to develop a program that is successful and is one that all can be proud of."
Off the court, Puryear was inducted into the UMBC Athletics Hall of Fame (Class of 2012) and in May 2009, Puryear joined the United States Tennis Association Board of Directors, adding to his already-long list of accomplishments.
Puryear won 443 matches and 10 conference coach-of-the-year honors in a decade as the head men's and women's coach at UMBC. His men's teams have appeared in five NCAA Tournaments (2000-2003, 2007), while the women have also made five trips (1999-2003) to the NCAA tournament.
Puryear's squads are also successful in the classroom. Last year's Navy team had four players earn Patriot League Academic Honor Roll accolades, and UMBC's women's tennis squad posted a grade-point average of 3.49 in 2008, best amongst all the programs in the America East Conference.
Puryear is a certified USPTA professional and instructor for the Tennis Institute, where he coaches several MATA and nationally-ranked juniors. In May 2009, Puryear joined the Board of Directors with the United States Tennis Association (Maryland) as an at-large director.
He also currently plays at the competitive level in both Maryland and in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association, where he has been ranked in the top five in the state and has been ranked as high as No. 2 in doubles on four different occasions. In 1998, Puryear was ranked No. 1 in the state in the men's 35 and older, and in 1999, was No. 6 in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Puryear played two years of tennis at Howard University before transferring to UMBC. Following a year at UMBC, Puryear enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served from 1983-88. Returning to his studies at UMBC, Puryear graduated with a B.S. in economics in the spring of 1990.
Puryear was selected Big South Conference Women's Coach of the Year in 1997-98, and was the NEC Women's Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001. In addition, he was selected as the NEC Men's Coach of the Year for 1999-2000 and 2000-01. In 2002, he accomplished a double, earning both men's and women's coach-of-the-year honors, and in 2003, he captured the women's award for the third-straight year.
Puryear and his wife, Venida, have two daughters, Jasmynn and Keri.