Saint Leo University Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy named James Bryce as the new head men’s and women’s tennis coach in August of 2009.
Bryce comes to Saint Leo from fellow NCAA Division II institution Columbus State University where he was the assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s programs, giving him the necessary experience to run a combined tennis operation out of one office. His two-year stint for the Cougars saw Bryce earn valuable recruiting experience, as he helped take both teams to numerous NCAA postseason tournaments.
Prior to his time at Columbus State, Bryce started his collegiate coaching career at Samford University after concluding a four-year career as a member of the Bulldogs’ men’s tennis team. As a member of the 2005 Ohio Valley Conference regular season champions, Bryce was also on two runner-up teams in the OVC tournament and was the program’s Most Improved Player during the 2002-03 season.
The native of Solihull, England, Bryce got his first shot at coaching in the fall of 2000 when he became a Development Tennis Coach for the David Lloyd Leisure Club in a position he held until the summer of 2005.
Bryce, now entering his fourth season at the helm of the men’s and women’s tennis team, put together a historic year for the Lions’ programs in 2011-12. Named ITA’s South Region’s Head Coach of the Year, Bryce saw his two clubs combine for 34 wins, including a program-record 18 on the women’s side. Continuing on the women’s side, Bryce’s group finished third in the Sunshine State Conference with a 5-3 record. In addition, the team registered a 13-7 in-region record as they clinched their second NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. In addition, the women defeated archrival Florida Southern College for the first time in the program’s history. The women topped the year with a 12th-place ranking in the final ITA Poll. As for awards, the women collected a pair of SSC Player of the Week awards, five All-SSC selections, six ITA All-Scholar selectees, one team ITA Academic award, as well as the program’s first ITA All-America winner in Laura Kemkes.
Equally as impressive were the men as the finished the season with a 16-8 record. They finished third in the SSC with a 3-3 mark and made their second consecutive NCAA appearance. Briefly cracking the top-10 in the ITA poll for the first time in program history, the men finished 13th overall. The men also posted a pair of SSC Player of the Week winners, while laying claim to six All-SSC selections. The team also had three ITA All-Scholar team choices, one team ITA All-Academic selection, and the squad’s first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team member (Men’s At-Large) in Matt Nicholson-Lewis.
In 2010-11, Bryce led his men to one of the best seasons in program history. Concluding the year at 14-11, Bryce's men defeated seven ranked oppenents and eventually found their way into the Sunshine State Conference Tournament where they defeated Florida Southern, 5-3, to advance to the quarterfinals. The win over FSC was the first one in over a decade. In turn, the outstanding regualr season and conference tournament saw the Saint Leo earn their first-ever team berth into NCAA Tournament.
During the 2009-10 season, his first year at the helm of the Saint Leo men’s and women’s tennis teams, Bryce began to develop his core group of players that will be the success to the program in the coming years.
He helped guide the women to an 8-15 overall record and a 2-6 Sunshine State Conference mark. They finished seventh in the Sunshine State Conference and also registered a seventh-place showing in the SSC Tournament.
The men, on the other hand, finished with a 3-20 overall record and 0-6 in the SSC. The team closed the year seventh in the conference and seventh in the SSC Tournament.
Bryce, married to the former Erin Heeder, lives in Wesley Chapel, Fla. with their two cats, Oreo and Topsin, and their Yellow Labrador, Barkley.