June 06, 2023
Cowley alum Boomer Saia named head women’s tennis coach at Clemson University
Boomer Saia, a 2009 graduate of Cowley College, has traveled a long and winding road to become one of the country's most highly sought-after women’s tennis coaches. After helping guide Iowa State to its best season in the history of the program, Saia recently accepted a contract to become the new head women’s tennis coach at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Saia was named the fifth head coach of the Clemson women’s tennis program on June 1.
“Clemson has provided such a great opportunity for our family,” Saia said. “Professionally and personally, it checked a lot of boxes for us, and I can't wait to be a Tiger (again). There is a lot of rich history with the Clemson women's tennis program, and I am really looking forward to leading the program.”
Saia, the 2021 and 2023 Big 12 Coach of the Year, spent the 2019-2023 seasons as the head coach at Iowa State, leading the program to three NCAA Tournaments and the No. 8 final team ranking in 2023.
Saia achieved several firsts at Iowa State, taking the Cyclones to its first three NCAA Tournaments in its 50-year program history, including a quarterfinal appearance in 2023. The team also advanced to the semifinal of the ITA National Indoor Championships and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation this season. The ranking marked a 211-spot improvement from when Saia took over the program in 2018.
“The experience at Iowa State was unlike anything I have ever been a part of in this life,” Saia said. “To help turn around a program, watch players do really special things, and make an elite 8 when many didn't even think we could make the NCAA tournament was something that will be with me forever. The destination was a really neat achievement, but the journey to get there was unbelievably special. It truly was more than words to be a part of something so genuine, and watching the players inspire each other, our staff, and the Ames community was an experience that will always be with me.”
Iowa State had never been ranked among the top-75 in the nation before Saia took the helm, and he set records in Big 12 wins, overall wins, all-conference selections, and NCAA appearances and broke several winless streaks. The Cyclones were 21-6 this season and 66-38 (.635) overall in Saia’s five seasons.
Before Iowa State, Saia was an assistant at Texas Tech, helping the Red Raiders to the NCAA Quarterfinal in 2018. He spent the 2016-17 season at Vanderbilt as an assistant, winning the SEC and earning a top-five ranking. He was an assistant coach at Oklahoma from 2014-16, bringing the team into the top-25, and served as a volunteer assistant at Kansas from 2010-14.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have great mentors and people in my life during my career,” Saia said. “They are the reason I am where I am today, and all have contributed to the success I have had in my career. I was very privileged to have learned from some of the best coaches in our industry, and to be able to take that knowledge and add our own spin was so valuable. I am a big believer that you win with people, and one of the biggest reasons we were successful at Iowa State was because of our associate head coach Kenna Kilgo - she was there for the last five years at Iowa State, and I am positive we would not have been as successful without her. It takes a village to be successful at any level, and I absolutely treasure the relationships I have with our players and my peers.”
Saia played tennis at Cowley for then-head coach Josh Cobble during the 2008 and 2009
seasons and helped the Tiger tennis team place 11th and ninth, respectively, at nationals.
His father, Tom, was the athletic director at Cowley College from 1995 to 2012, and his mother, Sue, served as the vice president of student affairs while growing up.
Tom was inducted into the Cowley College Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 after leading the Tigers to 72 conference titles, 41 region titles, and 72 finishes in the top-10 of the national tournament.
“My time at Cowley genuinely made me into the coach I am today,” Saia said. “I was very fortunate to grow up with my dad as the athletic director. I was able to get great insight from watching practices, coaching moments, and games in all sports. There have been so many great coaches that have walked the Cowley halls, and to have been so exposed to that and around greatness taught me a lot about the love of the game and the coaching principles I believe in today. The Cowley Tiger family runs deep with me, and I would not be where I am today if it weren't for my time at Cowley. I feel so lucky to have experienced so many great moments as a Tiger that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Boomer followed this year’s Cowley tennis teams with pride as the Lady Tigers finished as the NJCAA Division I national runner-up and the Tiger men captured its first national championship since 1991.
“As soon as they won, I messaged head coach Manny (Raga),” Saia said. “There is a big sense of pride in being a Tiger. When it was announced that they won the national title, I had a group message with several former players, and all of us were so excited for the program and Cowley Athletics. It is an amazing accomplishment to ever win a national title, and I am so happy for the team.”
Saia and his wife Whitney have two sons, Ryder and Weston. He played tennis at Cowley College before earning a B.S. in Sport Management (2011) and an M.S. in Sports Administration (2013) from Kansas.
Saia has hit the ground running at Clemson and hopes to replicate the success he had in Ames while coaching in South Carolina.
“I think with this special opportunity comes a great responsibility to help the program reach great heights for the future and put it on the national stage amongst the elite in our sport,” Saia said. “Coaching tennis is what gets me up every morning excited to be able to do what I do.”
Rama Peroo | Director of Institutional Communication
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