It was a no-brainer. When former Tennessee head coach Michael Fancutt resigned on Nov. 8, 2004, Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton appointed Chris Mahony [pronounced MAH-nee] as acting head coach for the 2004 season.
What better candidate than a former Vols' All-America and a five-year veteran of Tennessee's coaching staff? Mahony's coaching service on The Hill dates to 1999, when he was brought in as an assistant prior to Fancutt's third year at the helm. Mahony's ability to not only offer verbal motivation and technical instruction but also to step onto the court and provide an actual demonstration helped propel the Vols to three consecutive NCAA semifinal appearances from 2000-2002, including a berth in the national championship match in 2001. Tennessee was the only program in the nation to accomplish that feat during that span, and it came as no coincidence that the Vols pulled off such a trifecta in Mahony's first three years with the team.
Following the 2002 season, Mahony was named the ITA Region III Assistant Coach of the Year, and his name began to surface whenever Division I coaching vacancies arose. Sensing Mahony's worth to the program, UT's athletic administration promoted the young prodigy to associate head coach prior to the 2003 campaign. Tennessee was not about to lose a key ingredient to its hardcourt prowess.
During Mahony's tenure as a UT assistant, he helped mentor five All-America performers, eight All-SEC selections, one SEC singles champion (Peter Handoyo, 2002), two SEC doubles champions (Handoyo and Andy Crews in 2000 and Handoyo and Mark Dietrich in 2002), eight NCAA individual singles selections, two NCAA individual doubles selections, five NCAA All-Tournament team selections and 13 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections.
With a respected reputation that extended beyond the collegiate ranks, Mahony also served as a coach/consultant to ATP touring pros at the 1998 Australian Open, 1999 French Open and the 2002 and 2003 U.S. Opens. Mahony boasts a P1 certification status from the USPTA, which is the highest coaching level one can attain from the organization.
His organization and administrative effectiveness has been evidenced by his service as tournament director for numerous noteworthy events, including the ITA Region III Indoor Championships and three USTA/UT $50,000 Pro Challengers. The challenger events, which took place in UT's outstanding Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center, attracted current top-30 ATP pros such as Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Vince Spadea, James Blake, Robby Ginepri, Martin Verkerk and former French Open champion Michael Chang.
A positive presence in the local tennis community, Mahony also served as director of Tennessee's summer tennis camps from 2000-04.
The foundation for Mahony's well-roundedness as an athlete, citizen and tennis mentor was established during his days as a collegiate standout with the Big Orange.
Mahony arrived at UT as Australia's No. 3-ranked junior singles player and No. 1-ranked junior doubles player. He also earned career-high ITF world junior rankings of No. 1 in doubles and No. 5 in singles. It was clear that Mahony was a prize acquisition for former coach Mike DePalmer Sr. and the Vols' tennis program.
From 1993-96, Mahony became one of Tennessee's all-time greats. He garnered All-America honors for the Vols in 1994 and 1996 and will likely be best remembered for his outstanding doubles play with partner Pablo Montana. The duo ranks second in the Tennessee record book for most career doubles wins, with 75 as a pairing. Mahony and Montana earned the No. 1 ITA national doubles ranking after claiming the prestigious title of national indoor doubles champions by winning the 1996 Rolex Intercollegiate National Indoor Championships.
Exhibiting a balanced all-around game, Mahony was also an accomplished singles player for the Vols, and ranks 10th on Tennessee's all-time wins list with 90. Mahony was a standout in the classroom as well. He was an Academic All-America selection in 1995 and 1996, and received Academic All-SEC honors during all four years of his UT career.
Mahony competed professionally in 1997, 1998 and 1999, ascending as high as No. 320 in the ATP world rankings.
On July 31, 2004, Mahony married the former Crystal Cleveland in Delray Beach, Fla.