Countdown: Q&A with WFU Coach Tony Bresky
by Colette Lewis
, 28 October 2016
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Wake Forest men's head coach Tony Bresky wasn't anticipating a career in tennis. But a bad night at the office changed all that.
After four years at Division I Western Illinois University
, where he was Mid-Continent Player of the Year three times, Bresky chose Indiana State to pursue a master's degree in business. During those two years of study, he served as assistant coach to Sycamores head coach Brian Boland, but once Bresky received his degree, he took a job in finance.
"After I got my master's in business, I worked in finance for almost a year," said Bresky, now in his sixth year at Wake Forest. "The first six months I tried to convince myself I liked it, then the next six months I was figuring out how to quit. I was in there one night, it was Friday night, and I was looking up college tennis scores at 8 p.m. I grabbed my stuff and said 'I'm never coming back here,' and that was it. I never went back."
Bresky did a stint with Tennis Europe and worked as a private junior coach while he figured out his next move.
"Then Brian got the Virginia job and his assistant didn't work out. Obviously, we had a good relationship, so I started at UVA," said Bresky, who spent eight years, from 2002-2010, as Boland's assistant and then associate head coach. Bresky's first head coaching job was at Cornell, where he led the Big Red to the Ivy League title in 2011. In 2011, after just one year at Cornell, he was named head coach at Wake Forest and led the program to new heights, including an ACC tournament title last spring, sealed with a win over perennial champion Virginia.
Bresky, who has twice been named ACC Coach of the Year, led Wake Forest to a national ranking as high as five, the best in program history, in 2016, finishing at No. 8. The Demon Deacons defeated two ACC rivals ranked No. 1 at the time, Virginia and North Carolina
, and their 31 wins was a program record.
In Tulsa for the ITA All-American Championships, where Wake Forest sophomore Petros Chrysochos won the title, Bresky spoke with me about his coaching philosophy, the difference between college and junior tennis, his advice for juniors in the recruiting process, and many other topics.
Questions and Answers
Colette Lewis (CL): Did you know you wanted to be a head coach? You were at Virginia a very long time.
Tony Bresky (TB): I was there for eight years. I think it was a great situation at UVA. When I first got there it was kind of a building project; we weren't very good. We developed that program and it was a lot of fun being there. But yeah, I always knew I wanted to be a head coach. I wanted to be patient and I enjoyed the experience there and we had some very good teams; it was certainly a good experience for me.
CL: Did you see the program-building part as a path you would need to take?
TB: You just don't know. The situation at Wake Forest, we competed against Wake Forest a lot at Virginia, had a pretty good understanding of what the school was like, the ACC, and when I got the job, it was the first year of the [Winston-Salem Open] ATP event. They redid the entire outdoor facility. It was definitely a great opportunity at Wake. I think Jeff (Zinn) had done a really good job at Wake for a few years there; for a year or two, especially the team I walked into, we had some work to do, for sure. But it's been a lot of fun.