Fall Signing Week '12: How Important is the Coach in your Decision?
by Marcia Frost, 13 November 2012
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How many times have you heard players say they signed with schools because they love the coaches? It happens all the time, and there is nothing wrong with it. You should love the coach of the team you want to join. Actually, you should love all the coaches - assistant, head and volunteer. On the other hand, loving a coach should never be your sole decision maker when it comes to college tennis.
College tennis teams can have up to three coaches, and they usually do in NCAA Division I. In some of the other divisions you might have one or two coaches and, in a few instances, a single coach may even handle both the men's and women's team at a school.
The Volunteer Coach may be a touring pro, a player or former player who is working on his advanced degree at the school, or a recent graduate who is still trying to decide on a long term profession. The volunteer coach might be there every day or just come help out occasionally. As the word "volunteer" indicates, this is someone who is not getting paid, though they may be receiving tuition or other benefits.
The Assistant Coach is sometimes given the title of Associate Head Coach (with a salary increase) if they've been with the team for many years. There is usually not much difference between the two titles unless the team has an associate and assistant coach. If both are present, the associate head coach has a bit more input on the team.
The Head Coach on a team is in charge of it all. He or she will be the boss of the other coaches and the ultimate decision maker. The head coach will also be responsible for duties such as the team's budget, final recruiting decisions, setting up dual matches for the spring and choosing which players play which tournaments in the fall.
Making a college tennis team click requires a lot of work, so it's not unusual to find different personalities and work ethics among the coaches on the team. You may find that the assistant coach is most proficient at giving private lessons, the volunteer coach is an expert on serves and the head coach likes to run drills, or it may be the other way around. Each coach may have completely different personalities or views from the others, such as their thoughts on nutrition and workouts. Whatever the reason, a visit to the school may find you drawn to one of the coaches over the other. There's nothing wrong with that - as long as you keep it in perspective.