Feb. 28, 2011
By Cristina Diez, FSU Sports Information
Since you used to play for the FSU women’s tennis team, how does it feel to coach at your alma mater?
This job is certainly a dream job. The way things came together, for me and for my career, and to end up back where I played is very unique. I know I am truly blessed and lucky to have had this opportunity to continue my career and hopefully finish my coaching career at Florida State.
Did your experience as an athlete affect the way you coach?
Part of the reason I coach is because of my experiences here as a student-athlete. During my time at FSU I really loved and adored my coaches and they had such a tremendous impact on my life at the time. That experience with them and with my team pretty much pushed me in the direction of coaching. I changed my degree once or twice and then I finally realized this is what I wanted to do. So I can easily credit both of my FSU coaches in setting my path towards coaching.
What are some of the different pressures of being a coach for the Florida State women’s tennis team?
You always have the pressure to win. I think the majority of the pressure that a coach feels or any coaching staff member feels doesn’t come so much from the administration, it doesn’t necessarily come from the powers that be; it comes from that internal drive towards success, the desire to win and out-do years prior and to be better and grow every year. I think that pressure that you put on yourself is more pressure than anybody else can put on you. At the same time I welcome that kind of pressure and that pressure helps to keep a person narrowly focused. I am fortunate to have found a career that means so much to me where the pressures are a challenging part of the job.
In your six years coaching at FSU, your team has won the Golden Torch Award four times for their ability to maintain the highest GPA within FSU athletics, how do you motivate your athletes to be great students as well?
I am fortunate to coach in a sport where the young ladies we recruit (more often than not) are academically driven. As a whole I’d say there is an overwhelming desire in each of them to succeed on all fronts, not just with their tennis and not just with their school. I feel like a lot of the motivation for that comes from within themselves, but it’s definitely something that we as a staff are sure to reiterate to them. They know the importance of a good education, and they all are making the most of it while they’re here. We stress to them ideas surrounding achieving the highest marks possible, graduating with honors, and putting their hearts and souls into that aspect of their experience at FSU.
How would you compare the women’s tennis program now to when you were a student-athlete at FSU?
We are quite a bit better now than we were when I was here. However, the resources we have now compared to what we had then really don’t compare. For example, we would wear K-Swiss shoes, a Wilson skirt and fancy pants under our skirts with an Adidas top. Things were not what they are now. We’re dressed to the tee, we look good, we feel good, and we feel confident. Little things like this do make a big different in the end and its wonderful to see how well these details have changed over the years. Regarding the philosophies that are within the team, and I think they are similar to how they were my last few years of college. I feel like I took some of my former coaches philosophies and made them into my own.
What made you want to come back to FSU as the coach for the team you once played for?
Well obviously FSU is an athletic powerhouse in the US. Besides that fact, coming back to your alma mater, especially when your alma mater is a school like Florida State that’s so nationally and internationally recognized, it’s a dream. I think when you coach at the university where you played it’s a very different experience than coaching someplace else. Again, I know I’m so blessed and lucky to have had this fall into my lap the way it did, and the timing of it was unreal. I know how fortunate I am.
Who is your biggest influence as a coach?
Certainly my coaches from my years in college impacted me greatly. More importantly, I think my parents helped to instill some solid qualities in me and did so very early. I have stayed true to many of those qualities and I think the people I am around everyday continue to inspire me. I am surrounded by great student-athletes each day, I’ve got the best assistant coach in the nation to work with and I think that combination of things really drives and pushes me when I get to work each day.
Your next home match will be against the Florida Gators, what does this ongoing rivalry mean to the women’s tennis team?
It’s a huge opportunity for our program. No matter if we’re playing in Tallahassee or playing in Gainesville, this rivalry runs so deep. There are so many years of history behind it and we’re really excited to host them again this year. This will always be a huge interstate rivalry for us. We love game day against the Gators.