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Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Fresno Pacific University names coaches for new tennis, baseball teams

Neil Castro and Oscar Hirschkorn have been selected to coach the new tennis and baseball programs at Fresno Pacific University. The announcement was made by FPU Athletics Director Dennis Janzen.

Castro will oversee both the women’s and men’s tennis teams, while Hirschkorn will lead the men’s baseball team.

Tennis pro
Castro, a native of Fresno, earned Central Valley Conference tennis player of the year honors at Fresno City College in both 1991 and 1992. He transferred to California State University, Fresno, where he helped the Bulldogs to the NCAA Region VII Team Championship in 1994. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in kinesiology in 1996.

Castro served as the assistant men’s tennis coach at CSUF from 1997 through 2001. He also served as the director of tennis and head tennis professional at Copper River Country Club from 2000 to 2004.


Neil Castro

To be at the ground level and build an intercollegiate tennis program is a great challenge,” Castro said. “To have the opportunity to do this at a Christian university like FPU makes it that much more special. I think we can attract the right kind of student-athlete and I think we can be competitive in our first season.”

NCAA champion
Hirschkorn, a native of Kerman, was selected by the San Diego Padres in the major league baseball amateur draft in both 1993 and 1994. He elected to play baseball at Kings River College, where he earned an associate degree in 1995, and California State University, Chico, receiving his B.A. in 1998 and his master’s in 1999, both in physical education.

Hirschkorn, a pitcher, led the Northern California Athletic Conference in wins in 1997, the same season he led Chico State to the NCAA Division II national championship. He then served as an assistant coach at Reedley College from 1999 to 2000 and as the head coach at Caruthers High School in 2001 before moving to Sanger High School. At Sanger he inherited a team that was 4-23. Three years later he guided the squad to the school’s first postseason appearance in over a decade.


Oscar Hirschkorn

“The opportunity to coach baseball and be a part of the Fresno Pacific University community is my dream job,” Hirschkorn said. “I have been preparing for this for 15 years. I am excited about the possibilities of coaching young men to reach their full potential as students, athletes and citizens. I am eager to build another winning athletic tradition at FPU, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

High praise
“In addition to their considerable talents on the field, Oscar and Neil represent the highest level of personal integrity and character,” said FPU Athletics Director Dennis Janzen. “That combination is exactly what we need to begin intercollegiate baseball and tennis. We are thrilled to have them join our team.”

The appointments also drew high praise from FPU President D. Merrill Ewert. “Both men are highly skilled and energetic, have articulated a clear vision for their respective programs and are well connected within the community and throughout the region. Local coaches hold them in high regard,” Ewert said. “Most importantly, they both are an excellent fit with the distinctively Christian mission of Fresno Pacific University.”

New facilities
The tennis teams will practice and compete at the Harold and Betty Haak Tennis Complex. The complex, comprising seven lighted courts, is currently under construction and scheduled to be dedicated the first weekend in April.

The baseball team will conduct practices and home games at local area high school diamonds until a facility is constructed. A fund-raising campaign is underway.

The 2005-2006 schedules for both sports will include a full compliment of Golden State Athletic Conference contests. FPU’s tennis and baseball teams will also be eligible to compete in the GSAC and NAIA championships.

Both Castro and Hirschkorn begin recruiting duties immediately in preparation for the 2005-2006 spring seasons. They will join the university full-time in the fall.

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Fresno Pacific University offers undergraduate and graduate programs that stress solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. Each year more than 2,000 traditional and adult students attend classes on the 42-acre main campus in southeast Fresno or centers in Visalia and Bakersfield. The university also reaches 12,000 students across the nation and around the world through professional development studies programs. The only four-year Christian university in the Central Valley, FPU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ranked in the top quarter among Western universities—master’s category by U.S. News & World Report.