Drew men’s tennis head coach on semantics, Puerto Rican slang and the delicious prospect of an unbroken, decade-long conference winning streak come May.
By Alex Langlois C’03
Is there one constant in men’s tennis throughout the past nine seasons?
We’ve always been blessed with great leaders and captains, and the previous coach, Ira Miller, established a good culture from the start. But every team is different. Every team has its own personality.
A couple years ago, you suggested that this streak, nicknamed “The Dynasty,” be renamed “The Legacy.” Why?
A dynasty is just about the results, the wins and losses, and our successes are more than that. There’s a bond among all the players that have set foot on that court, an unwritten code of conduct on and off the court that is passed down: a legacy. It’s a little bit like being in a fraternity, but without the obnoxiousness.
One of the quirkier traditions of men’s tennis is the nicknames. Please explain.
Since before I was an assistant coach in 2003, Ira Miller had everyone’s nickname printed on the back of their warm-up shirts where the last name would normally go. They aren’t genius, but they stick with you for the rest of your life.
Let’s hear one.
Jon Wood C’11 is Toto. First day he was on the team, he was wearing a Wizard of Oz shirt. When we introduced Toto to Elliot Smego C’12 (aka Rico, because he’s from Puerto Rico), he laughed. We went to Puerto Rico for our spring trip, and Elliot suggested we not say Jon’s nickname. In Puerto Rican slang, “toto” means something very bad.
What would a 10th winning season be called?
We’ve had Six-Peat, Seventh Heaven, Great Eight, Divine Nine. No idea. We’ll worry about it at the time. It will be a nice problem to have.
If the 2010 team wins the Landmark Championship, how would you explain it?
Two things: First, we believed; and second, we worked hard. You have to have both; they work in tandem. The harder you work, the easier it is to believe. And the more you believe, the easier it is to do the hard work. If we’re still trying to figure out what to call #10 in May, then obviously it worked.