New SDSU tennis coach looks to take program to next level


The South Dakota State tennis teams have a new face leading them both on and off the court.

That face is Joey Barnes. The former Upper Iowa University women’s tennis coach took the job in July after previous head coach Michael Engdahl resigned in May to pursue other professional opportunities.

Barnes is hoping to pick up right where the team left off last season, where the women’s team finished as runner-up in the Summit League Championship. The men did not qualify for the Summit League Championship last year but did the previous four years. 

“The expectation is pretty simple, continue to be at least competitive academically and on the court,” Barnes said. “The biggest goal is to continue the winning streak that we have going.”

Barnes knows that the next step for SDSU tennis is to reach the NCAA Tournament. Which is something that neither the men or the women have ever done.

He’d also like to see improvements in their facilities. As of right now the teams practice at Hillcrest Park, a public park here in Brookings.

“I’d like to have our own court,” Barnes said. “I’d like to see the university and Brookings community get involved in tennis by getting a facility so we can get more tennis players out there.”

Barnes grew up in New York City and found a love for tennis at a very early age. 

“My grandfather and father were tennis players so I got into it around the age of three or four,” Barnes said. “There was something about the feel of hitting that little yellow ball over the net, it’s an addiction.” 

Barnes served in the military as a member of the U.S Navy for 27 years. Before that he started gaining coaching experience at the age of 16 by teaching young kids at local parks. While still in the Navy he decided to get into college coaching by volunteering at the University of Maryland in 1994. He was promoted to assistant coach in 2003 and served a stint as interim coach. Maryland was ranked as high as 35th nationally during his time there.

The Navy has taught Barnes a lot, but he actually uses what he learns in tennis to help him in the military and his everyday life.

“Tennis teaches you that you can’t always win and to have discipline,” Barnes said. “You have to know your limitations when you play tennis, so i’m trying to teach my players and students to believe that nothing is impossible.” 

Barnes said he fell in love with SDSU the first time he stepped on campus. “The people were extremely friendly, the campus is beautiful, every student has a smile on their face and the Brookings community is great.” Barnes said.

From a recruiting aspect, Barnes wants to change some things including getting more local kids and trying to get more of the “impossible” kids. He’ll try and do this by selling the academics and campus at SDSU.

“I ask them a question ‘how many kids are trying to get in this school?’” Barnes said. “If a lot of people want to come to SDSU, shouldn’t that tell you something?”