Tucker Tennis Sends off Eight Seniors to Division I
by Ali Jones
, 5 July 2010
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Trent Tucker wants to regain Tulsa's old glory.
Oklahoma's second largest city was known in the 1920s as the "Oil Capital of the World," with numerous gushers spitting precious oil and derricks dotting the landscape.
Seven of eight Trent Tucker grads sport their colors
Tucker's not digging for black gold, however. Instead, he's planting seeds of tennis. His 2010 harvest has been bountiful: eight of his students have signed on to play Division 1 tennis - to Cornell
"I raised this class from the ground up," Tucker said with pride. "It's been a learning curve for everyone - for me, the kids and the parents."
Tucker's resume includes world-class tennis competition on the ATP tour in the late '90s. He returned to his home state of Oklahoma and began a successful career in medical sales. But the challenge of tennis was more exciting to him than signing contracts and shaking hands.
"I was working 27 hours on a part-time job teaching tennis," he recalled. While sales was financially rewarding, he decided that he would switch to something more personally fulfilling.
In 2002 he opened up the Trent Tucker Tennis Academy at the seven-acre Grand Health and Racquet Club and started with nine players. In 30 months the program catered to 150 players. By 2009 his juniors captured 46 Missouri Valley championships and two national championships.
"Parents just want an outlet for their kids that is safe, educational, fun and intense," Tucker said. "Kids want to train hard, to believe in their coach and be in a non-threatening situation."
That's what he strives to provide his students, but also the hope that they can earn collegiate tennis scholarships. He makes no promises, but constantly reminds parents that tennis training is long journey, that's it's not a sprint, but a marathon. He convinces students to forego power and the fancy shot for a solid, consistent style of play that is based on sound fundamentals. He is known to give away free lessons for those who can master his consistency drills. He is a creative, relentless, patient, funny and passionate teacher.
Evan McElwain, an incoming Big Red who hopes his team will win the Ivy League, captured Tucker's philosophy in a nutshell: "He has taught me that control is even more powerful than power itself."