Kelly Jones is in his eighth season as the Furman head men’s tennis coach.
In 2018, the Paladins posted a 19-8 overall mark and 5-2 SoCon record. Furman reached the championship match of the SoCon tournament for the fourth time in five years, and Ivan Mitric was honored as the Southern Conference Men's Tennis Freshman of the Year, while Cameron Green and Jake Munns earned all-conference first team citations.
Jones helped Furman to a 17-8 overall record and a 6-1 SoCon mark in 2017. The Paladins, who reached the semifinals of the SoCon tournament, captured six All-SoCon citations and placed two players, Jake Munns and Clarke Wilson, on the SoCon All-Freshman Team. Cameron Green and Adam Steryous were selected to the All-SoCon first team for singles for the second-straight year, and Adam Steryous and Jake Munns represented the Paladins on the All-SoCon first team for doubles. Munns and Jake Bhangdia were named to the All-Southern Conference second team for singles.
In 2016, Furman reached the championship match of the Southern Conference tournament for the third-consecutive season. The Paladins recorded a 13-11 overall record and 5-2 league mark. Adam Steryous and Cameron Green were named to the All-Southern Conference first team for singles, while Green and Alex Steryous garnered second-team accolades for doubles, and Josh Pistorius was chosen to the SoCon All-Freshman team
Jones led the Paladins to the championship match of the Southern Conference tournament in 2015 after posing a 10-16 overall record and 6-1 SoCon mark. Jacob Behal was named to the All-Southern Conference first team for singles, while Cameron Green and Adam Steryous were honored with a first-team doubles selection. Ben Horst and Steryous were chosen to the All-SoCon second team for singles, and Green was also selected to the SoCon All-Freshman Team.
The Paladins showed much improvement in 2014 under Jones, concluding the season with a 16-9 overall record and an 8-1 league mark and finishing the regular season in second place in the Southern Conference. Furman reached the finals of the 2014 Southern Conference Championships, where the Paladins fell to top-seeded Elon, 4-1. The Paladins defeated #68 Iowa, 4-3, midseason, and went on to win eight out of the next nine matches to conclude the season, scoring 4-3 wins over Wofford and UNCG in the first two rounds of the SoCon Tournament.
Furman’s Adam Steryous was chosen SoCon Freshman of the Year after posting a 7-2 league record at flight one singles. He was also selected to the SoCon All-Freshman team and the all-conference first team. The Paladin doubles team of sophomore Matt Browne and senior Joel Cook also earned all-conference first-team accolades, while sophomore Ben Horst was chosen to the All-SoCon second team at No. 6 singles.
In 2013, Jones helped the Paladins to a 9-14 overall record and 5-5 league mark, and the team reached the quarterfinals of the SoCon Tournament for the second-consecutive season under Jones’ tutelage.
During his first season at the helm of the program, Jones led the Paladins to a 9-15-1 overall record and 5-4-1 Southern Conference mark. The team put together a four-match league winning streak mid-season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the league championship.
Jones, a native of San Diego, Calif., is among the top developmental coaches globally. Over the last decade, he has coached some of the best professional tennis players in the world, including Mardy Fish, currently the top-ranked American and No. 8 player in the world, and James Blake, who has been ranked as high as fourth world-wide. His other players include two Top 20 performers, John Isner and Xavier Malisse, along with many other Top 100 performers.
Prior to his coaching career, Jones established himself among the top professional tennis players on the ATP. In 1998, he reached the mixed doubles finals at Wimbledon, then won the ATP Tour Singapore singles championship in both 1989 and 1990. Jones attained a #1 doubles ranking on the ATP Tour in October of 1992, then went on to reach the doubles finals at the U.S. Open and the Australian Open that same year. The 1994 World Team Tennis Player of the Year, he also won the doubles championship on the ATP Tour at St. Polten in 1997.
After retiring from professional tennis in 1998, Jones spent six years as a USTA National Coach scouting, recruiting, and developing the nation’s best junior tennis players.
During his collegiate career, Jones won NCAA doubles titles in 1984 and 1985, then led Pepperdine to the finals of the NCAA Championship the following year. A four-time All-American, Jones dropped a 3-6, 6-3 7-6 match to Furman’s Ned Caswell in the second round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament. Prior to his junior year at Pepperdine, he also competed as a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team.
In May of 2013, Jones was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.
Jones is married to Tami Whitlinger-Jones, a former top WTA Tour tennis player. The couple has a daughter, Makenna, who competes on the North Carolina women's tennis team.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT FURMAN MEN’S TENNIS HEAD COACH KELLY JONES
“I had only one name on my wish list when looking for a new coach to take the reins and help my career. That name was Kelly Jones. Kelly will be perfect as a collegiate coach. He will bring hard work, honor, and dedication to the program. The players he coaches will leave college prepared for any situation that will be in front of them. He will get the most out of their talents and, at the same time, make them credits to society.”
“Kelly Jones is a great hire for Furman! Coaching at the Division I level requires commitment, confidence and leadership towards winning, and Kelly Jones has been a winner at every level. Kelly will instill an edge to the Furman program. I never liked playing Kelly on the pro tour, because he was always extremely prepared and confident in his abilities to win. The Furman men’s tennis team better be ready to work as hard as Kelly worked to be #1 in the world on the ATP Tour.”
Women’s Tennis Head Coach, Syracuse
1993 French Open Doubles Champion
‘Kelly Jones brings a wealth of knowledge into collegiate tennis. His world class experience as a competitor and coach will be an invaluable asset for Furman. Kelly’s ability to understand and relate to his student-athletes that separate him as a leader and allow him to build upon Paul’s foundation for a bright future for Furman.”
Men’s Tennis Head Coach, Illinois
“Kelly Jones’ passion for the game of tennis is hard to equal. He has played at every level - junior, college, and professional - and been successful at the highest level in all three categories. He has coached on many levels and been successful, as well. Furman has made a wise choice in hiring Kelly Jones. He WILL make an impact in the program and in the lives of the players on his team.”
USPTA Master Professional, USA High Performance Coach
Director of Tennis, Angel Lopez Tennis Academy
“Kelly has a great knowledge of the game and knows how to get the most out of the players he works with. He will put all his knowledge to work and will have excellent teams.”
World Renowned Fitness Expert
“I’m so happy for Kelly that he will be coaching college tennis. He is first class in every respect, and his knowledge of the game is second to none. Furman, and college tennis, are much better off today with Kelly Jones involved.”
Head Men’s Tennis Coach, Stanford
“Kelly Jones is one of the most respected coaches in our game today. He has been developing talented players for years and will have an immediate and positive impact on the young men he will be leading at Furman. Kelly will help these students on the court, but more importantly in life. Watch out for Furman!”
Head Men’s Tennis Coach, Georgia Tech
“Kelly is one of a very few individuals who understand the multi-dimensional aspects of competitive tennis from both the perspective of player and world-class coach. He is a real student of the game and is always seeking to add new dimensions and skills to his competency. He brings a unique blend of intelligence, compassion, integrity, and technical competence to the world of coaching.”
James E. Loehr
Chairman & CEO, Human Performance Institute
“Kelly Jones has not only proven to be a great tennis player as a junior, collegiate, and professional, but he has also proven himself as a phenomenal tennis coach. While working for the USTA, he has developed some of the best players in our country. Very few coaches world-wide have attained the achievements he has attained. Most importantly, he has shown himself to be an honorable man who works passionately with all levels of players.”
Head Women’s Tennis Coach, South Florida
“As a player, Kelly was an unusual talent. Unlike many gifted players who just relied on their talent, he was a student of the game and very adept at breaking down his own game as well as his opponents. Kelly has had marvelous careers playing and then coaching top professionals; however, I’ve always felt that his knowledge and enthusiasm were better suited for college coaching. Having been a head coach on the college level for 24 years and knowing what it takes to be successful in this field, I have no doubt that Kelly will be brilliant. The team will love working for him, and with Kelly’s charming demeanor, the University will really enjoy him as well.”
Head Women’s Tennis Coach, USC
“Having worked with most of the notable coaches in tennis, I can honestly and easily say that Kelly Jones is one of the foremost experts in tennis coaching. Some coaches specialize in technique, while others might be stronger in strategy or the mental aspects of the game, but a true coach is someone that can help a player excel in all areas, and I have met very few as good as Kelly. It is a unique combination when you can find someone that has played and coached at the highest levels of the game, and Kelly has and continues to do just that.”
UCLA All-American, Former ATP Professional
“What a good hire for Furman. Kelly Jones is a great man. I coached him on the International Sunshine Cup Team stayed in touch with him throughout his college career and afterward. He is a man of focus, goodness, and passion. I am so thrilled that Kelly has an opportunity to have such impact on our youth of South Carolina and the nation as Furman’s coach. You have honored Paul Scarpa by choosing such a fantastic man and leader. Great job honoring Paul’s legacy.”
Author/Former Head Men’s Tennis Coach, Clemson