RICHMOND, Va. – The University of Richmond Vice President and Director of Athletics John P Hardt announced a new leadership structure for Spider tennis after last week’s retirement of long-time women’s tennis head coach Mark Wesselink.
Houston Barrick has been elevated to Director of Tennis and will oversee both the men’s and women’s tennis programs. Spider tennis alums Jacob Dunbar and Emily Dunbar have been announced as associate head coaches for men’s and women’s tennis. Both Dunbars will work with each program under the guidance of Barrick.
“Houston is a student-athlete centered coach who brings great expertise and a relentless, positive energy to our programs,” Hardt said. “Houston has provided outstanding leadership to our men’s program during the past five years and his impressive vision for both the men’s and women’s programs will positively impact our future levels of success.”
Barrick has been the men’s tennis coach for the Spiders for the past five seasons, posting a 55-33 (.625) record with the Spiders. He guided the program to back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Finals appearances in 2019 and 2021. This past season, he led the Spiders to 11 wins and helped John Walsh earn his second All-Atlantic 10 Conference honor of his career.
“I am excited to take on this new role and continue the strong tradition of Spider men’s and women’s tennis,” Barrick said. “It has been a privilege to work alongside Mark Wesselink these past five years and I am excited for the future of both programs. Having seen both Jacob and Emily Dunbar excel on the tennis courts as Spiders, it is truly exciting to have them working with me to lead our men’s and women’s tennis student-athletes.”
His 2019 team won the second-most wins in a single season, recording 18 victories and advancing to the league championship match. The Spiders picked up three A-10 All-Conference awards in Matthew Fernandez, George Lovittand klein evans after earning the second seed with a 4-1 league record in the regular season. In his first season, Barrick led the squad — which had lost five seniors from the previous year including A-10 Performer of the Year Jacob Dunbar — to a 14-11 record and a semifinal appearance in the tournament.
Barrick came to Richmond after five seasons as the Associate Head Coach at VCU. During his time with the Rams, Barrick saw VCU reach four Atlantic 10 Championship matches, including the 2017 title. Under his guidance from him, the Rams earned 16 All-Conference awards, and two student-athletes reached the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
Barrick spent two years as a club professional at Belle Meade Country Club in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. Prior to that, he spent the 2011 season as an assistant at Cornell, where he helped guide the Big Red to its first-ever Ivy League championship and earn its first NCAA Tournament berth.
A four-year starter at Virginia, Barrick was a two-time team captain and posted a 60-0 record in the ACC over his four seasons in addition to helping the Cavaliers to three national indoor team championships. He played as high as No. 1 in both singles and doubles at UVA and helped the Cavaliers to a 140-6 record during his career. Individually, Barrick finished his time at UVA with a singles record of 102-31 and doubles record of 115-34. A two-time NCAA All-Tournament Team selection, he was also named the 2010 ACC Tournament MVP and was selected to the All-ACC first team following his senior season. Barrick ranked as high as No. 2 in doubles competition and No. 50 in singles. An outstanding student, he was also a member of the All-ACC Academic Team in 2009 and 2010.
“Having both Jacob and Emily joining the coaching staff will provide a strong set of assets for the program,” Hardt added. “They represent a positive evolution forward for Spider tennis. Both having achieved remarkable success and storied playing careers. Their passion for Spider tennis is absolutely inspiring!”
Jacob Dunbar recently wrapped up his fifth season as the assistant coach for Richmond women’s tennis. He transitioned into his coaching role in the fall of 2017 after a stellar four-year career as a member of the Richmond men’s tennis program.
In his first four seasons as the assistant coach, Dunbar helped guide the Spiders to two Atlantic 10 Championship Finals appearances as well as a semifinal appearance and back-to-back winning seasons in 2020 and 2021.
As a player, Dunbar holds the Spider program record for all-time career victories with 105 and single-season victories with 32 in 2017. He is a four-time First Team All-Conference recipient and was named Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Performer for his senior campaign in 2017. Additionally, Dunbar earned the 2016 ITA Atlantic Regional Champion Title in doubles while being a finalist in singles.
Emily Dunbar just concluded her stellar playing career with the Spiders before moving into her coaching role. Dunbar was a four-time Atlantic 10 First Team All-Conference honoree. She began her Richmond career with a Flight A singles title at the Cissie Leary Invitational, winning five-straight matches in the fall of 2017 to open her freshman campaign. She went 11-8 at No. 1 singles including 9-1 in her last 10 matches and was named A-10 Most Outstanding Rookie Performer and Co-Most Outstanding Performer that season.
In her sophomore season, Dunbar won a pair of singles matches in the A-10 Tournament, defeating her opponents from Dayton and George Washington. She went 12-4 at the No. 1 doubles spot with teammate kiana marshall. She won four singles matches at the No. 1 spot as a junior in a COVID-shortened season in 2019-2020.
She went 5-5 at No. 1 singles her senior year, including 2-1 against A-10 opponents. Notably that season, Dunbar earned a win against Liberty’s No. 1 player 6-1, 6-0. She picked up a win against Rhode Island’s top player in the A-10 Tournament and paired up with Dessi Zlateva to go 5-1 at No. 1 doubles in the duo’s last six matches of the season, with the lone loss coming to VCU in the A-10 Championship final.
She closed out her playing career at Richmond playing all matches at the No. 1 spot as a graduate student in 2021-22. She finished the spring season 9-7 overall and 5-2 in conference action, going 5-2 in her last seven matches of the season with her only losses coming to William & Mary and VCU. Dunbar helped the Spiders advance in the A-10 Tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Duquesne’s Margot Pessy.
In doubles action this year, Dunbar paired with Sarah Salemyr at the No. 1 spot and the duo went 4-2 in conference play, including a win over VCU’s top duo in the regular season. Dunbar and Salemyr also took down Duquesne’s and VCU’s top duo in the A-10 Tournament.