Former USC men’s tennis player and assistant coach Roger Knapp died Sunday (March 30) in Sarasota, Fla., as a result of complications from an aortic aneurism. He was 48.
Knapp was a 4-year (1979-82) letterman for the Trojans, winning All-American honors in doubles his first 2 seasons. In 1980, he won the USTA Amateur Indoor title. The 1980 USC team won the Pac-10 title. The 1980 and 1981 squads advanced to the NCAA semifinals.
Knapp, who grew up in Des Moines, Ia., was the first tennis player to win the Iowa singles prep tennis title as a freshman, which he did while at Hoover High. He took the title again as a sophomore, and transferred to La Jolla (Calif.) High for his junior and senior years.
He won the 1977 Southern California boys-18 championship and was ranked 14th nationally among junior boys.
After USC, he played on the professional tennis tour for several years and ranked in the top 100 players in the world.
He was an assistant coach at Troy from 1986 to 1989, helping guide the Trojans to a 74-19 record. USC won the 1987 Pac-10 title and advanced into the NCAA tourney each year, including to the semifinals twice.
He then was Drake’s men’s tennis coach for 5 years, from 1989 to 1993. He guided the Bulldogs to two consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championships (1992-93). He transformed a program that owned a 3-20 record when he joined Drake in 1989, into a perennial power in the MVC with nationally ranked players. He posted a 72-46 coaching record at Drake, with the 1992-93 Bulldog team enjoying a 23-7 dual record. That record was the most successful season in the history of the program. He also led Drake to the 1992 NCAA team championships for the first time in school history. He was named the 1992 MVC and Region V Coach of the Year.
Knapp served as a director of Knapp Properties until his death. He was an investor and owner in many of the Knapp family real estate holdings in central Iowa.
He has two daughters: Sable, 18, lives in Des Moines, and Montana, 16, attends school in California. In addition, he is survived by his life partner, Ms. Kem Lindsay, and his sister, Ginny Haviland, who lives in West Des Moines,