D.J. Gurule is entering his 16th year as the head coach of the Gonzaga University women’s tennis program.
Gurule has overseen the profound growth of GU women’s tennis. The Zags have won double-digit matches in eight seasons under Gurule, including five of the six highest win totals in the last 20 years.
The last three seasons have been the some of the program’s best ever. The Bulldogs finished in second place in each of the last three West Coast Conference regular season standings, a feat that has never been done before. In 2017, the Zags reached the final match of the WCC Championships for the first time ever, one year after reaching the program’s first semifinal. In 2018, the Bulldogs once again reached the conference tournament semifinals. In the past three seasons under Gurule, program records have been broken in team winning percentage, individual singles wins, doubles pairs wins and more.
After nearly a three-year hiatus from the national polls, Gonzaga began the 2018 dual season with its highest ranking ever at No. 41 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll. The 2017-18 slate featured several program firsts: during the tournament season, Sophie Whittle became the first ever Bulldog to participate in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, and the Bulldogs were part of the 2018 ITA Kick-Off Weekend, taking on both Michigan and Brown in their first appearance in the tournament.
After the 17-4 season in 2017, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 5 in the Northwest Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the highest regional ranking in program history. In 2014, Gurule led the team to a national ITA ranking for the first time ever, and the Zags returned to the national poll a year later.
In addition to the strong WCC showing, the 2015-16 campaign also included an 11-match win streak – another program record – and single-season individual wins highs in both singles (25; Domonique Garley) and doubles play (25; Samantha Polayes and Sophie Whittle).
During this rise, Gurule has coached 40 All-West Coast Conference honorees, including the Zags’ first-ever First Team All-WCC Singles winner (Katie Edwards, 2015), Doubles pair (Polayes and Whittle, 2016), and Second Team All-WCC honoree (Agalya Kokurina, 2008). Additionally, Gurule has coached most of the players on the Gonzaga career wins lists.
Success hasn’t just come on the court; Gurule’s teams have also achieved highly in the classroom. The Zags have earned numerous ITA All-Academic honors as a team, and 24 student-athletes have been recognized individually at ITA Scholar Athletes. The West Coast Conference has also recognized 25 of Gurule’s student-athletes with WCC All-Academic honors.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Gurule has spent time working in tennis clubs throughout the Pacific Northwest. He’s served as co-director of the Spokane Racquet Club and also spent time at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond, Oregon, and Broken Top in Bend, Oregon. He got his start in coaching at Bend’s Mountain View High School.
Gurule played collegiate tennis at Pacific Lutheran University, earning four letters for the Lutes. He and his wife Katie reside in Spokane with their two daughters.