Men's Tennis coach keeps his players "Center-ed"
Before Michael Center got into the tennis head coaching business, he spent two years as a stockbroker, not only putting his degree from Kansas to good use, but also preparing him for his future career as a tennis coach.
Center, an engaging sort, knew how to read trends and he did not back away from what in the coaching business is usually a killer trend -- following a legend.
He walked into TCU after Tut Bartzen had guided the Horned Frogs for a quarter-century.
Center, likewise, had a large shadow cast by former Longhorns men's coach Dave Snyder, not to mention Wilmer Allison and Dr. D.A. Penick before him. Center is only the fourth men's tennis coach in UT history.
And his "numbers" work as a stockbroker has been an asset in his years at the helm here.
Take this year's squad, which was ranked No. 11 in the country as March began.
"Now I know there are places in the where being No. 11 would make people ecstatic," Center said. "But at Texas, well, if we got rid of one of those 1's, that would likely do it."
Understand, Center did not say that with resignation in his voice. Just realization.
And there is no one who would more like to remove one of the 1's than Center, who has a 72 percent winning percentage at UT and has twice gotten the Longhorns to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
He likes the attitude of his 2006 outfit, calling them "relentless."
As the month began, Texas was 5-1 and looking forward to a pair of upcoming dual matches with Michigan and Illinois.
"What has been hard for us is that we have played several matches indoors and we always practice outdoors," Center said. "But our guys have been working hard and have not used that as an excuse.
"I think we have played well in spots in all of our matches, but we're looking for more consistency."
Five of his 10 players are from foreign countries and he has only two seniors and one junior on the club.
"My expectations for this team this year," Center began, "were that we would maximize our potential. We expect to compete at a national level and we use the season to continue to improve."
After this month, which features six dual matches all at home, Center will have a better feel for his "relentless" crew.
"I hope that we'll be the last standing at the end," Center said of the NCAA Tournament.