By Austin Chappell
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Yevgen Bondarchuk has spent the last 12 years at Oklahoma State as a player and assistant coach for the men’s tennis team.
Those who know him, however, know him as much more than an everyday “assistant.”
“I’ve been very happy to have Yevgen as our assistant coach,” Oklahoma State men’s tennis coach Jay Udwadia said. “He’s a talented recruiter that possesses great knowledge for the game. Yevgen’s experience has given the Oklahoma State tennis program enormous amounts of success, and he could easily be a head coach at an established program.”
In those 11 years as a Cowboy, Bondarchuk has earned a college degree in economics, gotten married, had a son and established countless amounts of relationships with members of the Oklahoma State family.
Despite the memories and friends he has accumulated, though, Bondarchuk’s dreams and aspirations have pushed him to pursue a career away from Stillwater. After he finishes his duties as an assistant coach this season, Bondarchuk and his family are moving to Dallas so he can begin his career as a tennis instructor.
“It’s going to be very hard to leave here,” Bondarchuk said. “I am going to miss a lot of people, but my family and I are ready to start something new.”
Bondarchuk has received interest from several country clubs in Dallas, including the Four Seasons, one of the top 20 tennis resorts in the world according to Tennis Resorts Online. Yet, wherever he chooses to go, he will still reflect on his experiences at OSU.
A native of Kiev, Ukraine, Bondarchuk came to Oklahoma State during the 2003 season as a recruit under former head coach James Wadley, who coached the Cowboys for 40 years before retiring at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Wadley said Bondarchuk made an immediate impact on the tennis program as a player and coach by improving team chemistry and recruiting some of Europe’s best young talent.
“Yevgen gives the players confidence and always seems to say the right things,” Wadley said. The players like to have him on the court in the heat of battle. He is also arguably one of the best recruiters in the country as an assistant coach.”
Bondarchuk spent a majority of his playing career at Nos. 1 and 2 singles and doubles, compiling a 22-20 career singles record and a 22-15 doubles mark. He helped the team to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2003.
After his successful playing career, Bondarchuk joined Wadley on the coaching staff as a full-time assistant. The two led the Cowboys to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by another Sweet 16 run in 2007.
As soon as he began his coaching career, Yevgen’s recruiting presence then helped the program bring in one of the best tennis players in OSU history, Oleksandr Nedovyesov. The Ukraine native had arguably the most successful career for any Cowboy on the courts, earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors and achieving the coveted ITA National Player of the Year award.
Coaching had become a mainstay for Bondarchuk, and the team was thriving off he and Wadley’s success.
“There’s nothing I would rather do than coach,” Bondarchuk said. “It has always been my dream to coach ever since my playing career was finished.”
However, international work visa issues kept Bondarchuk from pursuing other career opportunities. They also kept his wife from getting a job in Stillwater. With a growing son, the family needed more support than what Bondarchuk was receiving from an assistant coaching job.
The opportunity for a more supportive career arose when Wadley retired in 2012. As an assistant for more than six years, Bondarchuk was immediately considered as a candidate for the head-coaching job.
Although Udwadia was eventually hired for the position, Bondarchuk was supportive of the newcomer’s role.
“Jay is an outstanding tennis coach,” Bondarchuk said. “He deserved the job. I couldn’t be happier to be his assistant.”
During the 2013 spring tennis season, Bondarchuk and his wife were finally given permission by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to pursue other careers. He sent his resume to country clubs in the Dallas area, and immediately received interest.
Now, Bondarchuk has his choice of where he will take his family and start a new path in his career. He will still be coaching tennis players, some younger than before, and will still be surrounded by the sport he has loved since his childhood.
“I can’t wait to find out what my family and I will experience in Dallas with my new job,” Bondarchuk said. “But I will always come back to Oklahoma State. I will be a Cowboy for life.”