Coaches corner: February 16
This season, Texas men's tennis head coach Michael Center and Texas women's tennis head coach Jeff Moore, two of the top coaches in collegiate tennis, will take turns sharing a variety of tennis tips which are based on the training programs of both University of Texas tennis teams. Additionally, the coaches are eager to answer any specific questions you might have about your own game. If you have any questions for Coach Center or Coach Moore, feel free to submit them and check back with TexasSports.com for the coaches' response.
Gary Tumlinson from Houston, Texas
Gary: This question is one that is asked by many. We actually play more American players than most and try very hard to recruit them. Currently, there is a junior tennis circuit that requires the top kids to travel the world and do home-schooling. In the end, many are academically unprepared or choose to become professional. The pool of talent in the states and across the country then becomes limited, so schools turn to international students. We try hard to recruit only college-age international students, and by this I mean 18-19-year-old freshmen. There are many schools that bring in older, more established talent. This puts pressure on coaches to match this act and, consequently, the talent search starts to move overseas. It is a vicious cycle which, to be honest, we would like not to be a part of. We would like to have six top-10 U.S. players, but this task is difficult and we want to compete. I do find it enjoyable to have some international players in our program. Most are terrific kids and very appreciative of the opportunity.
Gary: There are a large number of international players in college tennis for a number of reasons and one is that the recruiting pool of Division I prospects in America is too small to accommodate the comparatively large number of scholarships available every year. Often, the top 25 schools are fighting over 15 blue chip recruits for as many as 40 spots! Although recruiting international players is necessary to maintain competitiveness, I do not like the approach of some coaches who completely ignore Americans and recruit all Internationals. By the way, we currently have two Croatians on our team, both of whom are outstanding players and excellent students. International players can add a lot to a team beyond the tennis. Most American players have led incredibly sheltered lives and the opportunity to interact with someone from a completely different culture in an every-day team setting is beneficial to their growth as teammates and people.
Peter from Austin, Texas
Peter: That is a difficult question, but I will try. 1. Esteban Carril - (TCU) Ranked in the top five and the most athletic player I have ever coached. He was a three-time All-American.
Peter: I am sorry, but I cannot possibly answer your question. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have had many outstanding players over my 23 year career at Texas. For the most part, they come from different teams in different eras which make comparisons very difficult. Also, it is important for people to realize that although All-Americans come to mind as obvious candidates, we are a team sport and there are many players who did not reach that pinnacle who meant just as much to the team's success.
Jonathan Crane from Lubbock, Texas
Jonathan: Being a collegiate coach can be a difficult game to get into. There are not many opportunities and a lot of times it is about who you know. My advice is to get in the game as soon as possible. I don't know your background, but you need to be very proactive. Send out resumes, call people, meet people and do anything that can get your foot in the door. You need to be able to move anywhere and work for very little money. This doesn't sound great, but you really have to be aggressive to get involved. Best of luck and in the future please send me your resume. I would be happy to give you my advice.
Jonathan: To coach at the Division I level requires all-consuming passion and drive to coach, teach and motivate. You also must be incredibly well-organized. Players feed off your energy and it helps them to feel that things are "in order." Disorder is a tremendous stressor for athletes, which is why my propensity to get lost on trips stresses ME out! Communication is also crucial because the nature of your interactions with athletes on and off the court is constantly evolving. Communication skills, of course, are also important in recruiting which by the way is a year round, non stop endeavor. As far as educational preparation goes, it is hugely beneficial to have a solid background in Motor Learning, Biomechanics, and Exercise Physiology. Understanding how people learn and how the body works is essential to teaching effectively. Coaching at this level demands that you be "on" at all times. You cannot leave your work at the office. I can't complain though. I've done it for 29 years and feel like I've yet to have "a job!" Good luck, Jonathan!
George Malluck from Dallas, Texas
George: The Texas Cup was actually a very big success. We drew huge crowds the first three years and all of the matches were very competitive. We were fortunate to win all three. Texas A&M decided not to continue the event and at this point, I don't see it coming back.
Edward from Houston, Texas
Edward: The Big 12 is truly a powerful conference this year. Currently, there are four top-25 teams (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, OSU), with Texas Tech, OU, and Colorado fielding outstanding teams. Baylor is the clear favorite with basically the top two players in the country returning for their senior years. The rest of us will battle with very little margin of error separating us. We will have to play well during the conference race. We have a young team with four new starters this year, but I think we will be a much better team by the time the conference season arrives in April. It should be exciting and I hope you can come watch the conference tournament which is being held in Austin at the end of April.
Kiersten from Austin, Texas
Kiersten: Our "off season" is in the fall. In our program, this is a time for development with a priority on teaching and physical conditioning. We also enter the players in some open draw tournaments so that they can apply what they work on in practice. Improvements made in the off-season can set up the rest of the year so the fall is an incredibly important time.