Conversation with Syracuse Coach Luke Jensen
by Harry Cicma
, 17 April 2009
Special from NBC.com
One of the most famous coaches in the NCAA is Syracuse head coach Luke Jensen. Jensen, who won the 1993 French Open doubles title with his brother Murphy, is now in his third season as head coach of the Orange.
Harry Cicma of NBC News caught up with Jensen during Signing Week.
Questions and Answers
Harry Cicma (HC): How has the new experience been as a Division 1 Head Coach? Syracuse
head coach Luke Jensen with assistant Shelley George at Wimbledon
courtesy, Syracuse Athletics
Luke Jensen (LJ): I love coaching at Syracuse University. This new challenge in my tennis life has me as focused and motivated on developing my players as I was focused on winning Grand Slams as a player.
I still do many charity events, my Jensen-Schmidt Tennis Academy for children with down syndrome, Wilson-Jensen Brothers Tour events, and I work for ESPN through the year. But I have found working with kids who want to take their game to the pros through the college path - while earning a life degree in the classroom - motivates me to be my very best every day!
HC: What are the biggest challenges of being a Head Coach?
LJ: I only recruit Americans because I want to be part of bringing American tennis back to dominate the world rankings like the USA did when I played in the 80s and 90s.
My #1 challenge is finding American kids that will work as hard as I need them to work. I found that my level of dedication proved to be the biggest weapon in my game on the way to the top.
There are many thoughts on how to bring American tennis back, but my fellow tour greats and ESPN experts all agree that American kids are out-worked, out of shape, and are not coachable. I am trying to find American kids that want to listen and do it the Jensen way - a way that produced four Jensens on be ATP and WTA pro tour from Michigan, where the nearest indoor court was over an hour away. Those kids are hard to find.
American kids want to do it their way because they have a blue chip or 5 star rating. But NONE of those players have ever won a Grand Slam - and I have! I'm not saying it is the only way, I'm saying it is the way I made it. But no matter what way you want to do it, players will have to pay the price and put in the work. American kids have not paid that price in a long time.