Now in his 10th season as Florida Southern’s men’s tennis coach, Trey Heath begins the 2016-17 season with a 118-98 record in his time with the Moccasins, taking them to the NCAA Tournament seven times in his nine seasons, including 2016. The Moccasins were nationally ranked in all nine of those seasons, and won at least one match during the NCAA Tournament in four of them. Heath is one of only seven head coaches the Florida Southern men’s tennis program has had since records are first available in 1954-55, and one of only three who have won 100 or more matches. He earned his 100th as a member of the Moccasins with their 6-3 victory at Eckerd on February 26, 2015.
Including two previous seasons at nearby Webber International where he took the Warriors to two NAIA National Tournaments, Heath has compiled an overall collegiate coaching record of 137-122. During his 11 seasons as a college head coach (2006-15), Heath has made a total of nine postseason appearances at either the NCAA or NAIA level and earned national rankings in all of them.
Heath has had four of his Florida Southern teams win at least 15 matches in a season, an impressive accomplishment considering the Moccasins compete in the most challenging Division II conference in the country, and the toughest region. Since 2008 in Heath’s first season at Florida Southern, the final ITA poll of the season has shown four Sunshine State Conference schools ranked among the top-20 in all but one year, and Florida Southern has been among that group three times while also finishing two other seasons at #24 and #25. The Mocs’ best ITA finish under Heath came in 2010, when they ended the year ranked #7 after going 15-8, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and not losing to a single team ranked lower than #8 all year.
Heath’s first season at Florida Southern was a preview of things to come. He guided the Moccasins to a 17-9 record that year which included a third-place finish in the SSC Tournament and a runner-up finish in the NCAA Regional bracket they were assigned. He won his first match as a Moccasin coach by defeating his former team at Webber International, 9-0, and by early March had already defeated #8 Lander and #19 Northwood (MI). The Mocs nearly upset #3 West Florida during that stretch too in one of their four matches that season against top-five opponents, and one of 10 against teams ranked in the top-10. In addition to their victory over Lander that year, the Mocs also notched a pair of wins against 9th-ranked Rollins and went 10-8 against ranked teams overall.
The following year again saw the Moccasins advance to the region final, and they did so once more in 2010, when no one outside of the top-10 teams in the country could beat them. They made a fourth straight visit to the regional championship match in 2011 after going 5-7 against ranked teams in the regular season, with two of their losses coming by 5-4 scores.
In 2012, Heath turned in one of the best coaching jobs of his career, taking a team that had graduated three of its regulars from the previous season and getting them back to the NCAA Tournament after an 0-6 start. What followed was a remarkable turn-around that saw the Moccasins go 11-4 over the remainder of the regular season, win five of those matches by 9-0 scores and four others 8-1. One of their four losses during that stretch came to a Division I school, and two others were close defeats to ranked D-II opponents. And despite the difficult start, by the end of the season, every player on the court still finished .500 or better with their individual record, two of them made the all-conference team, and Florida Southern still ended the year at #25 in the country.
Since arriving at Florida Southern, Heath’s teams have also been routinely recognized for their work in the classroom too. Heath has had 91 Sunshine State Commissioner’s Honor Roll students in his first nine years at Florida Southern, with 64 of those also earning ITA Scholar-Athlete Awards, and 43 on the list of NCAA Division II Academic Achievement winners. His squads have also been named ITA All-Academic Teams every year.
Among the top individuals who have played for Heath at Florida Southern is two-time All-American Michael Knoedler, who was also the 2008 SSC Player-of-the-Year and an Academic All-American in 2010 when he returned to school following a one-year absence. This past fall, Knoedler was inducted into the Florida Southern Athletics Hall of Fame.
Roman Schirmaier is another All-America produced by the Mocs’ current head coach, and All-SSC selection Benoit Paradis won over 100 matches between singles and doubles play in his four years playing for Heath.
Prior to his days at Florida Southern, Heath went 29-13 in two years as head coach of the men’s team at Webber International, and also coached the women’s team as well. His 2007 men finished the year ranked #14 in the NAIA national rankings after advancing to the second round of the national tournament. In 2006, the Warriors were #13 in the final poll after again qualifying for the NAIA National Tournament. During that time he had a total of five NAIA Scholar-Athlete Award winners.
Heath can trace his tennis roots back to Winter Haven High School, only a few miles from Florida Southern College, where he won state championships in singles and doubles, and earned a scholarship to Lees-McRae College in North Carolina. After one season there he transferred to Webber to finish his collegiate playing career for his father Bill Heath, at the time Webber’s tennis coach and now the school’s athletic director. Following his graduation in 1994, Heath served as an assistant coach at Webber while working under his father from 1995-99, and helped the Warriors finish fourth the 1999 NAIA National Tournament.
Heath left the coaching ranks in 1999 and was involved in private business and teaching until 2005, when he returned to Webber as head tennis coach. He received his bachelor's degree in finance in 1994 from Webber and is nearing completion of his master's degree in business administration.
An accomplished motocross racer in his spare time, Heath and his wife Michelle have a 14-year-old daughter, Brianna.