When you talk about the University of Memphis men's tennis program, the name Phil Chamberlain will immediately come to mind. A player at No. 1 singles for then-head coach Tommy Buford from 1973-1976, Chamberlain took over the head coaching duties for the program in 1999. Now heading into his sixth season at the helm of the Tigers, Chamberlain is just 14 wins shy of his 100th career victory, sporting an 86-49 career record while helping the Tigers earn a spot in the national rankings in each of the past three seasons.
When Chamberlain took over the program, he inherited a slate of duties that would already keep a coach busy. But Chamberlain worked tirelessly to upgrade the Tigers profile in the men's tennis world, signing players from around the world, fundraising money to upgrade the on-campus facilities utilized by both the men's and women's tennis programs, and developing relationships with head coaches of nationally-ranked programs, trying to get the Tigers' a spot on their schedules.
The result was a completely-renovated on-campus tennis center that will host the Conference USA Men's Tennis Championships in April of 2004, a roster that includes some of the top junior players from around the world, and a schedule that features seven nationally-ranked teams, including home matches against nationally-ranked New Orleans in the spring of 2004.
And in 2003, a trio of Tigers earned Conference USA honors by being named to the all-conference team. Senior Ben Stapp, one of Chamberlain's first signees, capped an outstanding singles and doubles career with a second-team all-conference honor. Stapp capped his career with an 72-45 mark, including some time at No. 1 singles, and an impressive 84-34 mark while playing a majority of his career at No. 1 doubles. Stapp and his doubles partner, Lee Taylor Walker, ranked as high as No. 12 in the country at one point in their two-year-career together, with Walker also earning second-team, all-conference honors in 2003. Senior Joe Schmulian capped his three-year career with a third-team honor. Schmulian, who missed the fall of his senior season due to injury, posted a 16-6 record during the spring, and in addition to his all-conference honor, received a C-USA Sportsmanship Award.
Sportsmanship, competitiveness on and off the court, and striving to complete their college coursework and receive a degree are consistent goals of any Chamberlain-coached team. The payoff has been three straight Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Team Academic honors and having three student-athletes earn ITA Scholar Athlete Awards in 2003 for the first time in Memphis history. The Tigers were also honored by the ITA in April of 2003 with an ITA Team Sportsmanship Award. In order to receive that national award, the Tigers had to be nominated by an opposing team and the honoree was chosen by the national office.
A high-profile figure in the Memphis tennis community, where he serves as the Director of Tennis Operations for The Racquet Club of Memphis and the Assistant Tournament Director of the Fed-Ex/St.Jude Tennis Tournament that features both the professional men's and women's tours playing at The Racquet Club, Chamberlain, a former No. 1 singles player for former head coach Tommy Buford from 1973-76, helped the current day Tigers achieve something only he and his teammates had done before, earning a national ranking. Memphis first broke into the national rankings in 2001, but spent all of 2002 and 2003 in the national rankings. Prior to their 2001 appearance, the Tigers were last nationally ranked in 1975, when Chamberlain and his teammates ranked as high as 18th in the nation.
A native of Perth, Australia, was a Metro Conference Singles and Doubles Champion in 1975 and 1976. He was also an outstanding doubles player, teaming with Keith West to win the NCAA Southern Doubles Championship in 1974.
Before coming to Memphis, Chamberlain won the Australian Team Championship, the Linton Cup, in 1972. After arriving in Memphis, Chamberlain quickly began to make a name for himself in the Tennessee and national tennis circuits. He was the top-ranked player in the Tennessee Open Men's Doubles from 1975 through 1980. During the same time period, he was ranked between first and fourth in the Tennessee Open Men's Singles.
From 1972 to 1982, Chamberlain filled his personal trophy case with 14 Singles USTA sanctioned titles, and 37 Doubles USTA sanctioned titles. In 1989, he finished third among the 35's in the Tennessee Southern Cup Challenge.
After finishing his eligibility at the University of Memphis, Chamberlain began a long and prosperous coaching career in Memphis. From 1976-1980, he coached three people to number one rankings in the United States. He also coached 12 collegiate All-Americans, 240 sectionally-ranked juniors, and led 104 juniors to collegiate scholarships. Chamberlain has also coached seven touring professionals, including Jimmy and Ricky Brown, Audra Keller, Keith Evans, David Pollack, Stacey Schefflin and Susan Gilchrist.
Chamberlain served as assistant coach to Buford during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. He also coached the Tennessee Junior Davis Cup in 1983, and coached the Tennessee Junior Davis and Wightman Cup teams from 1984-1988, with his 1988 Wightman Cup team winning the championship. Chamberlain also coached the STA Girls Intersectional team, which won the National Championship during the 1990-91 season.
Chamberlain has filled several tennis-related administrative positions in Memphis. He is currently the assistant tournament director of the ATP/WTA Kroger/St. Jude International. The tournament is held at the Racquet Club of Memphis every February and welcomes members of both the men's and women's professional tennis tours. He has served as tournament director for the NCAA Division II and III Championships, the ITA Southeast Regional Championships, the Junior College Championships and the NAIA Championships.
Chamberlain and his wife, Ginger, have three children, a son Michael, and two daughters, Kristin and Kara. Michael was a two-year letterwinner for the Tigers from 2001-2002 and played for his dad after transferring to Memphis from Middle Tennessee State prior to his junior year. His transfer marked the second time a father coached his son for the Tigers, following Tommy and Tiger Buford.
Chamberlain was inducted into the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the Tiger Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Memphis City Amateur Hall of Fame in 1992.