Tuesday July 3, 2012Amer Delic Hired as Men's Tennis Assistant Coach
Amer Delic, who grew up in nearby Jacksonville, has been hired as the University of Florida’s men’s tennis assistant coach, announced on Monday by head coach Bryan Shelton. Delic won an NCAA singles and team championship while at the University of Illinois and reached as high as No. 60 in singles and No. 74 in doubles during his professional career on the ATP Tour.
“Amer had a very decorated career as a collegiate player at the University of Illinois and has also had a great professional career,” said Coach Shelton. “I know that he’s ready for this next chapter in his life and he’s going to make a huge impact on the Florida Gators.”
“When I came down to Gainesville and sat down for an interview with [Coach Shelton], discussing the opportunities and possibilities with this team and with the support from the University of Florida and the athletic department, I knew that this was the right fit for me,” said Delic. “Especially growing up in Jacksonville, I absolutely know what it means to be a part of the Gator Nation.”
Delic, who just turned 30 years old, turned pro in 2003 after his junior year at Illinois and has played on the professional circuit for the past nine years. He has eight singles titles and three doubles titles to his credit and has appeared in the main draw of Grand Slam events 10 times. Delic has also served as the team captain for the Bosnia/Herzegovina Davis Cup team, playing as recently as April of 2012. In 2009, Delic reached the Round of 32 at the Australian Open, losing to third-ranked Novak Djokovic in four sets. He reached the second round in a Grand Slam on five other occasions, including three other times at the Australian Open (2006, 07, 08).
“In recruiting, the players that we are going after are players that we want to help reach the next level. We want them to have success in college and to be able to play professionally afterward,” said Shelton. “The experience that Amer brings to the table is going to be very appealing to young players that are looking at college as a stepping stone to the pros. I think that we’ll be able to bring in some of the very best juniors in the country that will help the Gators be successful on the courts.”
“I think that Amer is very smart and has a great understanding of the game. He’s one of those guys that plays an aggressive style, which is the style that I like to coach,” said Shelton. “He’s a great doubles player as well, so he knows the game inside and out. Amer will not only be able to tell the players how it should be done, but he will be able to show them, as he is a world class player who works hard.”
Born in Tuzla, Bosnia, Delic and his family moved to the United States in 1996 and settled in Jacksonville. He quickly rose up the junior tennis ranks, compiling a 45-1 record and winning the Florida State Championship (1998) and Gator Bowl title (2000). Delic was consistently ranked in the top three in his section (Florida) and was a top-five player nationally before heading to the University of Illinois.
“Coming back to an area that I know really well, it was a tough offer to refuse and it just seemed like a perfect fit for me, especially in this transition from professional tennis to college coaching, which is something that I always saw myself doing in the future,” said Delic. “That future just happened a little sooner than I expected.”
In three seasons with the Illini, Delic had a 92-33 singles record, including an impressive 26-2 mark in the Big Ten. He earned five All-America honors (two in singles, three in doubles) and helped Illinois become a national powerhouse in his three seasons in Champaign. The 2003 Illinois team finished as one of the best in college tennis history, as the Illini defeated Vanderbilt to cap a perfect 32-0 season with an NCAA Championship. Delic then claimed the NCAA singles title while his teammates Brian Wilson and Rajeev Ram captured the doubles title, giving Illinois the rare Triple Crown of college tennis. Delic was named the Dike Eddleman Illinois Male Athlete of the Year and Jesse Owens Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year as well as being named the 2003 ITA Player of the Year.
“One of our goals is to be in a position to win championships. Amer knows that first-hand from a player perspective,” said Shelton. “He had a great coach in Craig Tiley at Illinois, who really did something special, to be able to win a national championship at a place that didn’t have a lot of tradition. Amer was a big part of that.”
Just weeks after completing his college career, Delic won his first professional title at the ITF Futures event in Peoria, Ill., in July of 2003. He made his ATP World Tour debut in Indianapolis, winning his first round match before losing to then-world No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan. Later that summer, Delic became the first Bosnian-American to compete at the U.S. Open after earning a wild card into the main draw. Delic won his second title in 2004 at the Futures event in Auburn, Calif., and his first doubles title at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Lexington with doubles partner Matias Boeker.
Delic was named a USTA Pro Circuit Player to Watch for the 2005 season and went on to capture his third career singles title at the ATP Challenger Tour stop in Mexico City, defeating former Gator tennis player Jeff Morrison in the final. Morrison also happened to be one of Delic’s doubles partners, as the pair advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Open in 2005. Delic and Bobby Reynolds paired together to win the ATP Challenger Tour doubles title in Calabasas, Calif., in October of 2005.
“Jeff is a very good friend of mine and was a mentor once I got out on the tour,” said Delic. “He was actually one of the first people that I reached out to when this opportunity came along. He was extremely supportive and super pumped up about the program, not just for me, but the overall program. I think one of the key things for the program is to get in touch with some of the former Gators, because some of them are still involved in tennis, and use their eyes to kind of help with the recruiting. I think that’s going to be one of the keys.”
Delic had the best year of his professional career in 2006, winning two more ATP Challenger Tour titles and reaching the finals of four other events. He finished the year ranked in the top 100 after going 35-9 in Challenger play from July through the end of the season. Delic’s success continued into the beginning of 2007, defeating three-straight Top 40 opponents (No. 40 Julien Benneteau, No. 37 Jose Acasuso and No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko) as he reached the fourth round of the ATP Masters Series event in Miami. In January of 2008, Delic won the ATP Challenger Tour event in Dallas and also won the Challenger title in Carson, Calif., in May.
The past four seasons provided mixed results as Delic dealt with several injuries. He had a career-best finish at the 2009 Australian Open, advancing to the Round of 32 before falling to Djokovic. He reached the final of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Champaign, Ill., in November of 2010 and took home his last singles title in his native Bosnia, winning in Sarajevo in March of 2011. Delic and partner Travis Rettenmaier won the Challenger doubles title in Honolulu last January. He played in the qualifiers for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2011 and also the Australian and French Open in 2012. Delic was in London just weeks ago playing in a warm-up tournament prior to Wimbledon when he tore his MCL, forcing him to return home to Jacksonville for rehab when the call came from Coach Shelton.
“I still know that I can still play, but obviously not at the level that I was accustomed to before,” said Delic. “One of my best friends who is a coach said, ‘It’s time for you to start serving others,’ and there is no better platform to do it than in college tennis, in an environment that I absolutely enjoyed. Probably the best three years of my tennis career were while I was in college. Now my hope is just to transfer the same experience that I had to some future potential Gators. I know that the University of Florida is extremely successful in athletics, in every sport, and we just hope to try to copy that success in men’s tennis.”
The Delic File
Birth date: June 30, 1982
Birthplace: Tuzla, Bosnia
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Education: University of Illinois
College Career: Three-time All-American and two-time All-Big Ten selection at Illinois; 2003 NCAA Singles Champion; 2003 NCAA Team Champions; 2003 ITA Player of the Year; 2003 Jesse Owens Big Ten Athlete of the Year; 2003 Dike Eddleman Illinois Male Athlete of the Year; 2003 Academic All-Big Ten; 2001 Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Professional Career: Nine years on professional tour; eight singles titles; eight singles runner-up finishes; three doubles titles; 19 Grand Slam events, including 10 main draws; Bosnia/Herzegovina Davis Cup team captain
Career-High Singles Ranking: 60 (2007)
Career-High Doubles Ranking: 74 (2007)
Career Professional Singles Titles (8)
2003 Peoria, Ill. (ITF Futures)
2004 Auburn, Calif. (ITF Futures)
2005 Mexico City, Mexico (ATP Challenger Tour)
2006 Louisville, Ky. (ATP Challenger Tour)
2006 Champaign, Ill. (ATP Challenger Tour)
2008 Dallas, Texas (ATP Challenger Tour)
2008 Carson, Calif. (ATP Challenger Tour)
2011 Sarajevo, Bosnia (ATP Challenger Tour)
Singles Professional Runners-Up (8)
2004 Dallas, Texas, lost to Sébastien de Chaunac (4–6 6–7) (ATP Challenger Tour)
2004 Nashville, Tenn., lost to Justin Gimelstob (6–7 6–7) (ATP Challenger Tour)
2005 Carson, Calif., lost to Justin Gimelstob (6–7 2–6) (ATP Challenger Tour)
2006 Lexington, Ky., lost to Hyung-Taik Lee (7–5 2–6 3–6) (ATP Challenger Tour)
2006 Vancouver, Canada, lost to Rik de Voest (6–7 2–6) (ATP Challenger Tour)
2006 New Orleans, La., lost to Cecil Mamiit (3–6 6–7) (ATP Challenger Tour)
2006 Calabasas, Calif., lost to Mark Philippoussis (7–6 6–7 3–6) (ATP Challenger Tour)
Doubles Professional Titles (3)
2004 Lexington, Ky. (ATP Challenger Tour) – with partner Matias Boeker
2005 Calabasas, Calif. (ATP Challenger Tour) – with partner Bobby Reynolds
2012 Honolulu, Hawaii (ATP Challenger Tour) – with partner Travis Rettenmaier