Neal Ninteman, Men's Tennis Head Coach

Neal Ninteman
Neal Ninteman
Title: Head Coach (2009-)
Phone: 503-554-2714

Entering his 10th season as the head coach of the George Fox University men's tennis program in 2017-18, Neal Ninteman has guided the Bruins from the bottom of the pack to contending status in the rugged Northwest Conference.

Ninteman assumed the reins of the Bruin men's team when Rick Cruz, who had coached both the men's and women's team for 11 seasons, decided to cut back on his tennis duties at George Fox to devote more time to his outside business interests, turning the men's team over to Ninteman but continuing to coach the women's team.

Last season (2017-18), George Fox not only made waves within the conference but also nationally. The Bruins climbed as high as No. 32 in the national rankings and were led by three-time All-American Spencer Watanabe. Watanabe was a force to reckon with all season long. He became the first-ever Bruin to earn a spot at the NCAA Individual Championships and the first-ever Bruin to earn NWC Player of the Year. The Bruins finished the season with a three-seed in the Northwest Conference Tournament and a 13-5-1 overall record. Watanabe and freshman Will Leach both grabbed All-NWC first-team honors, while Alex Namba recorded his second straight All-NWC second-team selection. 

In the 2016-17 season, the Bruins reached a first in the program's history, as Spencer Watanabe and Alex Namba placed first at the ITA Championships. Watanabe placed first in singles and joined Namba for the best finish in doubles. Both players became the first All-Americans in the history of the program and earned a spot at the 2016 ITA Oracle Cup National Championship. The Bruins finished fourth in the NWC with a 7-5 record but fell in the first round of the tournament. Watanabe and Nambe earned All-NWC honors and concluded the season at the NCAA West Regionals - becoming just the second group to compete down in California. 

In 2015-16, the Bruins reached a new height within the program, as Spencer Watanabe and Chris Lilley became the first players to qualify for the NCAA West Regionals. Both players represented the Bruins in singles and doubles for the first time since the program joined the NCAA as an affiliate of Division III. Both players also finished the season earning All-NWC first-team honors. The duo also made history at the USTA/ITA Regional Championships, becoming the first Bruins to reach a doubles final in the program’s history. 

The Bruins finished the 2014-15 season with an impressive 14-8 overall record and a respectable 9-3 record in the NWC. Ninteman recorded his 50th win on March 1, 2015, with a 9-0 win over Puget Sound. They entered the Northwest Conference Tournament for the fourth straight year but fell in a tough battle to Pacific in a 5-3 match. Spencer Watanabe grabbed a spot on the All-NWC First Team, while Chris Lilley an Andrew You were named All-NWC Second Team.

The Bruins continued their success in the 2013-14 season achieving an overall record of 11-5 and a Northwest Conference record of 9-3. Their season ended against Pacific in the Northwest Conference Tournament when the Boxers defeated the Bruins, 5-1. This was the third straight year the Bruins qualified for the NWC Tournament. Chris Lilley and Justin McClain were named All-NWC First Team, while Preston Mann earned All-NWC Second Team.  

Continuing to improve, the 2012-13 Bruins achieved unprecedented heights, breaking records set the previous year for wins in a season and wins in the conference. The Bruins went 14-5 overall and 11-1 in conference play, finishing one game behind 15th-ranked Whitman in second place in the NWC. After routing Pacific Lutheran University in the NWC Tournament semi-finals, the Bruins again fell to Whitman in the tournament title game. George Fox was No. 10 in the West Region in the final ITA national rankings, and had a pair of First Team All-NWC selections in Justin McClain and Chris Lilley, with Shawn Aldrich and Drew Milton receiving honorable mention.

The 2011-12 season saw the Bruins compile their best record since the sport began at George Fox in 1996. With an overall record of 11-8, the Bruins posted the most wins in team history, and their 9-3 record in conference play earned them a No. 3 finish, their highest ever, in the NWC standings. The Bruins went on to defeat No. 2 seed Pacific University in a scintillating match in the first round of the NWC Tournament to reach the finals, only to fall to national power Whitman College. George Fox was ranked No. 11 in the final NCAA Division III West Region rankings by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, their first time ever to achieve a final national ranking of any kind. Justin McClain earned All-NWC Second Team honors, while Shawn Aldrich and Drew Milton were honorable mention All-NWC.

The Bruins raised the bar higher in 2010-11 by going 6-10 overall, including their first-ever wins over Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran and a stunning upset of conference contender Linfield. Their 5-7 conference record tied them for fifth in the league standings, only one game short of qualifying for the four-team NWC Tournament. Barnett and Preston Mann received honorable mention All-Conference honors, and Barnett was named the NWC Sportsman of the Year.

With a 5-16 overall record in Ninteman's inaugural season of 2009-10, the Bruins made an immediate improvement of four wins over the previous year. The team also went 2-14 and finished eighth in the Northwest Conference, posting their first conference victories in almost two years. Scott Barnett became the first All-Conference player under the new coach when he was named to the All-NWC Second Team for the second year in a row.

Ninteman, whose six-year record now stands at 61-52 (.540), believes that tennis at George Fox can eventually become a premier program and one that will give young players "an experience you want to be a part of. I love to teach the game and I love to motivate; I am supportive but demanding in terms of a strong work ethic for our players. There is massive potential here, especially if we can get some new tennis facilities that are in the works."

Ninteman's tennis pedigree is indeed a storied one. Growing up in the Los Angeles/San Diego area, he was introduced to the game at an early age and was once coached by the legendary Vic Braden. He took tennis lessons alongside Tracy Austin, who went on to become one of the finest players in the history of women's professional tennis. He himself eventually became a highly-ranked junior in southern California.

Ninteman also played football, basketball, and baseball at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, then went to California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo as a football player before switching to rugby. He earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1986, then completed his master's in civil engineering at Stanford University in 1988.

After two years with his father's business, Ninteman Construction Company in San Diego, Ninteman joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ with the Athletics in Action basketball program, working and playing for AIA for three years. From 1992-2000, he served with Crusade's campus ministry program in Russia, where he met his wife Susan, who was also a Crusade staff member.

Ninteman came to George Fox in 2000 and has taught engineering, math, and physics, developing a reputation as a challenging professor who stimulates and draws the best out of his students. In 2007-08, he received the Faculty Achievement Award as Undergraduate Teacher of the Year.

"We are delighted and excited to have someone of Neal's caliber and leadership in our tennis program," said George Fox director of athletics Craig Taylor when Ninteman took over the team. "He has a very rich competitive tennis background, an intensity and a 'player's perspective' that are assets to our program. The fact that the players have immediate on-campus access to him is also an important piece."

The Nintemans reside in Sherwood, Ore., and have two boys: Nate, age 16, and Jack, age 14. The family attends Southwest Hills Baptist Church in Tigard, Oregon.

Neal Ninteman’s Coaching Ledger









George Fox





NWC 8th


George Fox





NWC 5th (T)


George Fox





NWC 3rd; NWC Tournament 1-1 (2nd);

#11 in ITA West Region


George Fox










NWC 2nd; NWC Tournament 1-1 (2nd);

#10 in ITA West Region


George Fox 11-5 .688 9-3 .750 NWC 3rd; NWC Tournament 0-1


George Fox 14-8 .636 9-3 .750 NWC 3rd; NWC Tournament 0-1
2016 George Fox 9-10 .474 6-6 .500 NWC 5th
2017 George Fox 9-9 .500 7-5 .583 NWC 4th; NWC Tournament 0-1
2018 George Fox 13-5-1 .711 6-2 .750

NWC 3rd; NWC Tournament 0-1

No. 32 in Nation; NCAA Individual Championships


(9 yrs)








GFU Milestones


1st win - 9-0 vs. College of Idaho, 2/6/2010

50th win - 9-0 at Puget Sound, 3/1/2015 (first match)