OTTAWA, Kansas – Director of Athletics at the University of Ottawa, Arabia Conner, is pleased to announce the hiring of Donovan (Dony) McKnight as the new Men’s and Women’s Tennis Head Coach. McKnight takes over a women’s program that won the 2021 KCAC regular season title and finished third in 2022. The men’s program placed second in 2021 and fourth in 2022.
“Coach McKnight quickly rose to the top of our search with his preparation and infectious passion for coaching,” Conner said. “He’s a promising player and we can’t wait to see what he builds on with our tennis programs. We believe that with the foundations in place to build on, including key players returning for next year “, the future is bright. Coach McKnight clearly has the drive and skills to recruit and fill our niches while mentoring our current talent. We believe his dedication and strong work ethic will continue to drive our programs forward.”
Prior to coming to uOttawa, McKnight was an assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo. for the 2021-22 season. He helped the men’s team achieve a national ranking in NCAA Division II with wins over the University of Missouri – St. Louis, University of Illinois Springfield and Drury University, all firsts from the program. McKnight helped the women’s team to the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Tournament and four conference wins. As an assistant coach for the Saints, he performed administrative duties for the program, including travel arrangements, Front Rush compliance, budgeting, fundraising, and overseeing the organization’s social media accounts. crew. McKnight is also recruiting three student-athletes for the program.
“I want to thank Arabia and the search committee in Ottawa for this opportunity,” McKnight said. “Becoming a college head coach has been a goal of mine for several years and I’m extremely grateful to have had the chance to create a championship culture at this college. I’m beyond excited for this challenge!”
McKnight has also worked as a professional tennis assistant at Forest Lake Tennis and Swim Club (January 2021 to May 2022) and Saint Louis Country Club (October 2020 to May 2022). While working at these clubs, he built a clientele, ran clinics and private lessons in tennis, pickleball and paddleball. McKnight organized match play sessions and fitness drills. He planned, directed and executed junior tennis and paddleball programs. McKnight also assisted in the college placement of academy students.
Additionally, McKnight worked for the St. Louis Blues as the NHL20 High Schools Championship Project Coordinator from January to May 2020. He assessed various opportunities for the Blues to establish an esports presence. McKnight recruited high school hockey teams in the St. Louis area to compete in and served as a team representative. He organized the tournaments and directed the operations for the matches involving selected teams.
McKnight was a professional instructor at Vetta Racquet Sports Sunset from May 2019 to August 2020. He helped plan drills and prepare national-level players, based in the St. Louis area, for tournaments. McKnight also worked at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in New Brunfels, Texas as a Work-Play Professional from June to August 2018. He also served as Director of Match Play at Kings Point Sports Club in Belleville, Illinois from June 2017 to February 2020. .
Outside of tennis, McKnight worked for the Abstrakt Marketing Group in St. Louis, Mo. as a business development representative from May 2019 to March 2020.
McKnight was a member of the University of Maryville Men’s Tennis Program (2018-21) and graduated in May 2021 from MU’s Rawlings Sport Business Management program. He was on the dean’s list for six semesters and earned his MBA with a major in marketing from MU in April 2022.
While a student at MU, McKnight was named to the ITA All-Academic Team in 2020, he was a multicultural scholar, participated in the Multicultural Scholars Peer Mentorship Program, mentored freshman most outstanding in 2019-20 and most outstanding researcher in 2020-21, and he created workshops on social justice.
“I owe a huge thank you to Coach David Reinhart and all of the tennis players at the University of Maryville for everything over the past five years,” McKnight said. “Everyone who has participated in this program, myself included, has been able to create more value for themselves as individuals through the direct result of the team. My vision is to create a similar environment in Ottawa where young people can come to our program and leave as better people as a result of being here.”
McKnight joined the University of Ottawa on June 13.