Aaron Paajanen, a young and seasoned professional, was named the head coach for the University of Detroit Mercy men's and women's tennis teams announced Director of Athletics Robert C. Vowels, Jr., on Monday.
"I am extremely pleased to have Aaron join us here at the University of Detroit Mercy," said Vowels. "He comes from a tennis family and his experiences as a student-athlete, professional and collegiate coach will help us continue to build a pair of programs that will compete annually for championships."
"I am very excited about this opportunity and I am ready to get going," said Paajanen. "I have worked very hard to get an opportunity like this and I will give everything I have to help get Detroit men's and women's tennis on top of the Horizon League."
Paajanen spent the last two seasons as an assistant men's coach at Jesuit institution Santa Clara, helping the Broncos achieve national rankings in both years, including as high as No. 42 in 2013-14. That season, Santa Clara finished No. 56 overall in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
At Santa Clara, he coached a pair of players that were ranked in the Northwest Region's top-20 in singles as well as six players who received All-Conference accolades.
The Broncos also made a trip to the West Coast Conference's Championship semifinals in his first season, while he helped assemble a 2014-15 recruiting class that was ranked No. 12 in the nation and No. 1 among mid-major programs.
"We want to be competitive in the Horizon League and consistently be one of the top teams," said Paajanen. "I want to build teams that compete every single year."
Prior to that, he was an assistant men's coach at another Jesuit University in Loyola Marymount. During his tenure with the Lions, players earned eight All-WCC accolades. Loyola Marymount collected 47 wins in his four years, including a number of victories over nationally-ranked foes.
He started his coaching career as a men's and women's assistant coach at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, (2004-2005) under his father and longtime coach Jim Paajanen on the men's side and his mother, Barbara, for the women. He was also an assistant in 2009 helping the men's team reach the National Junior College Athletic Association's (NJCAA) National Tournament.
"I started off as an assistant coach at a junior college and then worked with Brad Sceney at Loyola Marymount and at a nationally-ranked program with Derek Mills at Santa Clara," said Paajanen. "I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of great coaches and I learned a lot that will hopefully help me make this a successful program"
As a player, he started his tennis career at Glendale community College in Glendale, Arizona, and was ranked No. 33 in the NJCAA in singles. He spent his sophomore year at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, under legendary coach and Hall of Famer Larry Grose was a NJCAA All American. From 2002-2004, he played tennis at Point Loma University in San Diego, California, where he was team captain and held a career winning percentage of .780.
After finishing his collegiate career, Paajanen briefly played the ITF/USTA pro circuit and was ranked in the top 500 before going into coaching.