Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Three-time All-American men’s tennis player and WVU Sports Hall of Famer Joby Foley died suddenly earlier this week in Virginia Beach, Virginia, according to former Mountaineer coach Terry Deremer.
Foley is considered the greatest men’s tennis player in school history following an illustrious four-year career that saw him lead West Virginia to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1988, 1989 and 1990 while posting an overall 80-40 record in singles play.
Back then, only 16 teams qualified for the national tournament.
“He was the best one ever,” recalled Deremer, now coaching Fairmont State’s men’s and women’s teams. “His senior year, he was ranked as high as No. 8 in the country in singles and top 10 in doubles.”
Twice, Foley earned All-America honors in doubles teaming with Ray Kurey in 1988 and with Brad Kelly in 1989, before earning All-America accolades in singles during his senior year in 1990.
Foley came to WVU after graduating from First Colonial High in Virginia Beach in 1986 where he was considered the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Mid-Atlantic Region. He turned down offers from Georgia, North Carolina and other top tennis programs to play for the Mountaineers.
He immediately became WVU’s No. 1 player on teams that included standout players Kurey, Kelly, Paul Mancini and later Mark Booras.
At the time, West Virginia men’s tennis was consistently among the top teams in the ITA East Regional rankings, once becoming the first non-Ivy League program to ever reach No. 1 while playing a national spring schedule that featured the top teams from the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Southwest and Pac-10 conferences.
“We were playing everybody,” Deremer said.
During Foley’s senior year, West Virginia defeated No. 4-ranked Miami, Florida, 5-1 on the Mountaineer Tennis Courts in what was considered the greatest victory in school history. Convincing the Hurricanes to come to Morgantown to play a tennis match was probably the second biggest win in school history.
“Eddie Pastilong was the athletic director at the time, and we were pretty good, but no one would come to Morgantown,” Deremer recalled. “So, I asked Eddie if the department could pay for their flight to come up to play, and he said he would do it.”
In 1989 and 1990, the Mountaineers defeated Harvard in the final match of the spring to earn NCAA Tournament bids.
Foley was a four-time Atlantic 10 singles champion at No. 1, a two-time doubles champion and won 136 matches during his collegiate career. In 1990, he was awarded the John Van Nostrand Award presented to the top singles player in the East.
“He wasn’t a big guy,” Deremer recalled. “Joby covered the court, and he really kept the pressure on the other player. His strokes were immaculate. Fundamentally, he was sound in everything and probably his best trait was his killer instinct. If he got ahead of his opponent, the match was basically over because he always put them away.”
During the summer of 1989, Foley swept the four USTA National Amateur Championships to become the first amateur “grand slam” winner in USTA history, earning a No. 1 ranking and an invitation to play in the 1989 U.S. Open Qualifier.
According to Deremer, Foley competed in some professional satellite tournaments to gain experience but couldn’t garner the funding needed to sustain a professional career after college.
“The summer of his junior year he went to New York to play satellites, really for experience, but after college he didn’t have the money to travel,” Deremer said.
Deremer said the last time he saw Foley was last October when some of the players got together for a reunion in Atlanta where three former WVU players are now residing.
Foley lived in Virginia Beach where he worked in information technology. According to his LinkedIn page, most recently Foley was chief IT strategist and chief enterprise architect at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Foley was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, the only men’s tennis player to be recognized.

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