One of the nation's top collegiate head coaches, John Whitlinger announced his retirement on May 29, 2014, following 10 successful seasons at the helm of the Stanford men's tennis program.
Since taking over the head coaching duties in 2005 from legendary skipper Dick Gould, Whitlinger guided Stanford to a 160-85 record and nine NCAA Tournament appearances while six different players have earned All-America accolades during his tenure.
However, Whitlinger's contributions to the Cardinal men's tennis program extend back nearly 40 years, enjoying success as an associate head coach and student-athlete.
For 18 seasons from 1987-2004, Whitlinger served as the program's associate head coach under Gould and helped guide Stanford to a 416-64 record while claiming nine NCAA championships.
From 2008-2014, Whitlinger directed Stanford to seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances and four 20-win seasons, with the Cardinal remaining a fixture as one of the nation's top-10 programs for all but one season during that stretch.
Stanford finished the 2014 campaign ranked No. 32 in the country at 14-6 overall despite battling multiple injuries throughout the year. The Cardinal placed third in the highly-competitive Pac-12 and earned an at-large bird thanks primarily to a strong finish, as evidenced by a 25-spot climb in the national rankings during the month of April. Stanford also posted four victories over top-40 opponents, including No. 16 California and No. 22 Boise State, while four of its six losses were against teams ranked in the top-10.
In 2013, Stanford finished 12-12 overall while placing fourth in one of the nation's most challenging conferences. The youthful Cardinal, which fell to LSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, battled multiple injuries to key regulars while boasting a singles lineup that featured three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. Stanford fought until the final weekend to lock up an at-large postseason berth and navigated through a grueling schedule that included nine opponents ranked among the top-20.
Three years ago, Stanford finished 20-9 overall and third in the Pac-12, advancing to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships for the second straight season. The Cardinal earned a No. 9 national ranking and upset No. 6 Kentucky in the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships. The 2012 campaign also represented the final chapter of an incredible doubles career for All-Americans Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher. Under Whitlinger's tutelage, Klahn and Thacher captured seven doubles titles and compiled a 113-22 record during their four years on The Farm.
In 2011, Stanford finished 21-6 overall and placed second in the Pac-10 at 5-1 in 2011, notching the program's longest winning streak in 10 years with a 13-match surge late in the season. The Cardinal suffered a hard-fought 4-3 loss to No. 1 Virginia in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships, falling just short of an upset that would have ranked among the program's most memorable wins. Instead, Stanford reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, defeating Texas A&M during the round of 16. On a quest for Stanford's first NCAA doubles crown since 2004, Klahn and Thacher came up short in a 7-6 (4), 6-3 loss to Texas A&M's Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek in the doubles final.
The 2010 campaign was especially memorable, as Stanford finished 20-6 overall to register back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time since 2002-03. Ranked No. 9 in the final edition of the national rankings, the Cardinal reached the NCAA Championships round of 16 for the second straight year. The Cardinal also captured a share of the Pac-10 title for the first time since 2006, joining co-champ USC. Klahn became Stanford's first NCAA singles champion since Alex Kim in 2000 and 14th overall collegiate singles titlist in school history. Klahn and Thacher also reached the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships to earn All-American honors.
Following a second round NCAA Tournament exit in 2008, the Cardinal took the next step in 2009 and reached the round of 16 for the first time since 2006. Stanford finished 20-6 overall and midway through the season earned the program's first No. 1 national ranking since 2002. Individually, Alex Clayton earned his second All-America honor while Klahn was named ITA National Rookie of the Year while becoming just the fourth player in school history to claim both the Pac-10 singles and doubles titles.
In 2006, Stanford closed out the year 18-4 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal went 6-1 to claim a share of the Pac-10 title and Whitlinger was honored as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year.
Whitlinger guided Stanford to a 14-11 record during his first season at the helm in 2005, as the Cardinal reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
One of the nation's top teaching professionals, Whitlinger was awarded the inaugural ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year in 1997. He was inducted into the ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Fox River Valley (Wisconsin) Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998. In addition to being a member of Stanford's Athletic Hall of Fame, Whitlinger was inducted into the USTA/Midwest Section Hall of Fame in December of 2010.
A two-time All-American (1974, 1975) at Stanford, Whitlinger was instrumental in leading Stanford to its first two NCAA championships in 1973 and 1974. The 1974 campaign proved to be Whitlinger's most successful, directing Stanford to an NCAA team title while becoming only the fourth player in program history to capture the NCAA singles and doubles titles in the same season.
After his collegiate career, Whitlinger was an international touring professional for six years and ranked among the top-50 in the world in singles and top-40 in doubles. He also played for the Indiana Loves of the World Team Tennis League. Whitlinger has teamed up with son, J.J., and the duo has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation in the National Father-Son Rankings. In 2002 and 2003, they won the prestigious Agawam Hunt Club Tournament in Providence, R.I., and were quarterfinalists at the National Grass Court Championships in Brookline, Mass., and at the National Clay Court in Cincinnati, Ohio.
From 1981 to 1986, Whitlinger was a head professional at the Racquet Club at Harper's Point in Cincinnati, Ohio. He ranked in the top five in men's singles play in the United States Professional Teaching Association (USPTA).
The Whitlinger family was named the National Tennis Family of the Year in 1986. Whitlinger's father, Warren, coached numerous junior tennis players in Wisconsin. His sister, Wendy, retired as the Director of Tennis at Fox Cities Racquet Club in Appleton, Wis. Whitlinger's sister-in-law, Ruth, manages the club and his brother, Kip, has coached tennis at the high school level in Menasha, Wis. His nieces, Teri and Tami, both attended Stanford and currently reside in Tampa. Teri captured the 1990 NCAA Doubles Championship, and Tami was ranked among the world's top-40 players as a professional. Both spent time as teaching professionals following their playing careers.
A native of Neenah, Wis., Whitlinger came to Stanford in 1972 as one of the top junior players in the country. During his high school career, Whitlinger won an amazing 109 consecutive matches en route to four consecutive state singles championships (1969-72). He holds 11 National Junior Titles, including the 1971 Interscholastic Championship and the prestigious International Orange Bowl Championship in 1969 and 1970. He was also a member of the U.S. Junior Davis Cup teams from 1970-74.
Whitlinger and his wife of 33 years, Jan, have two children: J.J., a 2005 graduate of Saint Mary's and current Stanford volunteer assistant coach and Fremont Hills Country Club teaching pro, and Claire, a 2007 graduate of George Washington and current doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Michigan. The couple also has a daughter-in-law, Katrina, and a grandson, Trey.