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Wilkes is chosen to lead Roanoke tennis teams
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Wilkes is chosen to lead Roanoke tennis teams

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Wilkes is chosen to lead Roanoke tennis teams

Chris Wilkes is the new head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Roanoke College.

SALEM—Chris Wilkes, a former prep tennis player at Franklin County and an assistant principal at Salem, has been named Roanoke College’s men’s and women’s tennis coach. He begins his new endeavor December 1.

Roanoke Director of Athletics Scott Allison confirmed Wilkes hiring in a prepared statement released Tuesday.

Wilkes said a published report that he plans to keep his administrative position at Salem.

Roanoke competes in the NCAA Division III Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Ferrum College is one of the Maroons’ league rivals in men’s and women’s tennis.

“I am honored to serve as the new tennis coach at Roanoke College,’’ Wilkes said in the statement. “The facilities are amazing and the people I have met have been wonderful.

“I am eager to meet the student-athletes and get to work. I am proud to be part of the Roanoke College team,’’ Wilkes said.

Wilkes takes over the positions Daniel Ragsdale. The Maroons were 1-4 in men’s tennis and 4-3 in women’s tennis prior the cancellation of both campaigns this past spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neither squad had played an ODAC contest among those combined 12 matches.

Last year’s men’s squad played four matches in Hilton Head, S.C. and a non-league match against Bridgewater, which was its lone victory.

Last year’s women’s squad played four matches in Hilton Head and three in Kentucky at the Transylvania Invitational.The team ended its season with a three-match winning streak.

“We are pleased to have Chris join our staff. His tennis acumen is thorough, (and) his experience mentoring young adults is exemplary,’’ Allison said in the statement.

“From our conversations, (Chris) recognizes the importance of recruiting the ‘right’ kind of student-athlete to Roanoke College.

“(Chris’) aspirations for the Roanoke College men’s and women’s tennis teams is for them to finish at our near the top of the ODAC on an annual basis. For me, that checks all the boxes,’’ Allison said.

Besides Roanoke, Ferrum and Bridgewater, Washington and Lee, Randolph-Macon, Lynchburg, Virginia Wesleyan, Sweet Briar, Shenandoah, Guilford, Randolph, Emory & Henry and Hollins compete in women’s tennis in the ODAC.

Besides Roanoke, Ferrum and Bridgewater, Randolph-Macon, Washington and Lee, Lynchburg, Guilford, Virginia Wesleyan, Emory & Henry, Hampden-Sydney, Randolph and Shenandoah compete in men’s tennis in the ODAC.

Franklin County competed in the old Group AAA Roanoke Valley District during Wilkes’ prep career and the squad was guided by former head coach Clyde Smith.

Wilkes is a former girls tennis coach and assistant softball coach at Salem and has past coaching experience at Staunton River High School (boys tennis) and Staunton River Middle School. Also, he has coached AAU basketball.

Wilkes, who received his bachelor’s in music from James Madison University and his master's in education from the University of Virginia, is a former director of Salem’s award-winning marching band. He is the son of former Franklin County band director and football historian Carlton Wilkes.

Wilkes resides in Salem with his wife, two children and a basset hound.

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