Positively Promoting the Student Athlete Since 1992



MISHAWAKA, Ind. – John Natali, Director of Tennis at Bethel University, along with Joel Dendiu, men’s and women’s tennis head coach, have announced their plans to step down from their positions at the end of the 2018-19 academic year.


“John has provided strong leadership to our tennis program for the past 18 years,” stated Athletic Director Tom Visker. “He has been committed to the holistic development of our tennis student-athletes and has built strong relationships with his teams. Because of John, our tennis program has a firm foundation upon which the new coach can continue to build our program.”


Natali has been the Director of Tennis at Bethel since 2001. Also serving as head coach his first two seasons, Natali compiled a record of 14-16 for the men and a 17-18 record for the women. In his 18 seasons total in charge of the Bethel tennis program, he oversaw a 132-189 record for the men, including the 2005 Crossroads League Championship, and an 192-157 record for the women, including the 2006 NCCAA National Championship.


“While there is no perfect time to step away, I believe now is the best time to close this chapter in my time here at Bethel, and pass along the opportunity to someone else to lead the program,” detailed Natali.


In all, Natali has been at the helm for three NAIA All-Americans, 50 NCCAA All-Americans, 16 NCCAA North Central All-Region honorees, nine Crossroads League individual champions, and 24 Crossroads League All-Conference performers.


Building champions on and off the courts, Natali has also mentored 77 NAIA Scholar Athletes, 26 NAIA Scholar Teams, 78 NCCAA Scholar Athletes, and nine NCCAA National Award winners for sportsmanship and/or ministry.


“I cannot put into words how grateful I am for having been given the opportunity to serve so many outstanding young men and women over the past 18 years,” continued Natali. “I only hope that I have positively impacted each of them as much as they have impacted me and my life.


“While the wins and losses over the years certainly have their place in my memory, it’s the day to day interactions with so many wonderful student-athletes that have made it all worthwhile. And I treasurer more than anything those memories that have blessed me so much. In the days to come, I hope to continue serving Bethel University and the athletic department in some capacity to the best of my ability.”


Dendiu, a 2007 graduate of Bethel, has been the head coach of the tennis program since 2015. He is stepping down to focus on his law practice in Mishawaka. In his four seasons, Dendiu compiled a 24-50 record on the men’s side and a 47-37 record on the women’s side.


“Joel has been a great asset to our team, especially as teacher of skills and strategies for our players,” stated Visker. “He was always positive and encouraging to our players both in practice and in their matches. His expertise and leadership will be missed.”


Dendiu has coached the men to eight NAIA Scholar Athlete honors, three NAIA Scholar Team recognitions, three NCCAA All-American honors, four NCCAA North Central All-Region honors, 11 NCCAA Scholar Athlete honors, and two All-Crossroads League recognitions.


Dendiu has coached the women to nine NAIA Scholar Athlete honors, three NAIA Scholar Team recognitions, six NCCAA All-American honors, ten NCCAA North Central All-Region honors, ten NCCAA Scholar Athlete honors, and was named the 2019 NCCAA North Central Region Coach of the Year after leading the women to a 14-6 record this season.


“It’s been an absolute blast and blessing coaching these past four years, especially alongside John Natali,” described Dendiu. “I am saddened that other obligations are forcing me to step down, but I am incredibly encouraged about the future of the program.”


The Pilots have already selected the next head coach for the men’s and women’s tennis program and will be introducing the new coach next week.