After eight years of assisting Hall of Famer Ron Smarr, Efe Ustundag takes over as the head coach of the Rice men's tennis team. He officially assumed the reigns of the program in July after being named Smarr's successor on November 10, 2011.
Ustundag takes over a team that saw its streak of nine consecutive NCAA appearances end at nine after an 18-9 season ended with a loss to Memphis in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament. He will be looking to blend three incoming freshmen with four returning lettermen during the fall with an eye towards the spring dual campaign.
In eight seasons as Smarr's assistant, Ustundag helped guide the Owls to seven top 50 rankings, seven NCAA berths and produced a qualifier for the NCAA singles championship six times. The Owls also have racked up 29All-Conference honors during Ustundag's tenure.
A doubles All-America selection at Rice, Ustundag also anchored the Owls singles lineup during his final three seasons and maintained a national NCAA ranking as high as 16th. He was the MVP at the 1996 Team Championships in San Diego.
Ustundag followed that up with Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Scholar Athlete of the Year and Tennis Magazine's Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for sportsmanship and leadership in 1998. He was an All-WAC Singles First-Team selection and All-WAC Doubles Second-Team honoree en route to NCAA Region VI Senior Player of the Year.
He began his coaching career in 2002, serving for two seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant coach and helping lead the Red Raiders advanced to Big 12 Semifinals in 2003.
Ustundag spent two years as a professional player and assistant coach for Enka Tennis Club in his native Turkey. He assisted Ali Gorec, the former Turkish Davis Cup coach, in various administrative and coaching duties.
Ustundag won the national championship in both singles and doubles during 2000, while capturing the national indoor championship in both events in 2001. He also was a member of the Turkish Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2001.
Before attending Rice, Ustundag attended the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida from 1990-93. He was awarded the NBTA Grand Slam award for academics, citizenship and athletics in 1992.
Ustundag graduated from Rice in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in managerial studies and sports management. He and wife Suur Biliciler-Ustundag make their home in Houston.