the lines are still good

Follow the happenings of an animated college tennis coach and his teams in their pursuit of an NCAA National Tennis Championship. It is always the impressive trophy that is displayed for all to admire that gets the attention, but it is the journey to claiming that trophy, the relationships built, the people served and the memories created, that live forever...and what I hope you will find interesting...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

So long college tennis...



I got involved with college tennis as a way to honor my parents who were both professors and coaches back in the 1960's and also to give back to the program and coach that provided so much for me. I started with a dream of taking a team to the National "Sweet 16". However, once we got there and I saw what it took to win a National Championship, it looked possible and that became my goal. I thought for a long time that I must have one. However, over time, I realized that it is more important to focus on building champions rather than winning championships and that relationships are far more important than achievements. Thus, a stronger purpose became clear. I was here to love, serve, care for and lead my teams. However, now begins a new path…

I am a very blessed person! I have had the opportunity to meet and be a part of so many people’s lives from all over the world. Who knows if that’s been a good thing for them, but I know it has been for me. Recently, the “Magic Bus” made it’s last stop and my college tennis coaching career came to an abrupt halt. I will not bore you with the suggested reasoning but suffice to say that unfortunately, the sponsorship of college tennis teams (and perhaps athletics in general) is decreasing around the country. Some for good reason, some not so much. I am so richly blessed to have had 17 great years as a tennis coach. Who knew a game could provide such great purpose in life and so much fulfillment? I will fondly maintain 17 years of great memories (too many to list them all):

 · Our first time qualifying for the National final 16. As our team was introduced at the banquet you could hear a pin drop 

· The many team trips 

· Coach Simon Earnshaw taking me on a tour of Savannah when he probably had many better ways to spend his time 

· Kamilė Kupčinskaitė’s winner and subsequent smile of jubilation 

· Players making life-long friendships with each other 

· Attending the weddings of former players 

· Watching the players become great fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and employees 

· Observing player development (Ton Pham) 

· Speaking with players about Christ and watching their faith grow. Some being introduced to Him for the first time 

· The many good choices made 

· John Cassas and “The Plan” 

· Battles with the players on the court. So many with Cristiano Borrelli. Most of which I won of course. Not to mention Coach Neil and I beating Borrelli and Christian Tiongko in “the match” 

· The community service activities and players understanding their importance 

· The Andreas Lindell smash to the back wall and the many battles with officials. Some with their shirts being worn inside out. 

· Indian buffets 

· My first team misbehaving at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Philly. 

· Kirill Azovtsev shade vs shave 

· The alumni USTA summer teams 

· ITA National Championships 

· Too many losses to Barry in the National Semifinals 

· The alumni golfing group 

· Joe Giamboi (Joseph John) and Shaolin Chandam 

The list goes on and on and I am so grateful for all of them… 

Thanks to all of the coaches, friends, administrators and especially the players that made this all worthwhile. There have been so many of you and I appreciate your support. In addition, there is no way I could have done any of this without the support and love of my family. Guess what, I will be around a lot more so prepare yourselves. Special thanks to Adeline Brennan for her great contributions and listening to me go nuts at times. Also, thanks to my brother in coaching, Craig Schwartz, so many good times and coaching growth together along the way. You will be one of the best in the game for years to come. Lastly, my sincere gratitude to Coach Neil Tarangioli. Everything I know about tennis I learned from you. You have been honest, supportive, caring and successful without losing sight of the important things. A great teacher and pal. You have built an incredible legacy with so little appreciation, that nobody can tarnish even though they may try. You are in my Hall of Fame. 

I am so proud of the accomplishments. I tried my best to love, serve, care and lead for God’s sake. I think I put my players first. My hope was to leave this thing better than how I found it. Do not feel sad for me. Most relationships of this kind have a beginning and an end. This was simply my time and the time was right, make no mistake about it. 

I wish you all much love and success going forward and I will be following you just like always. 

Nuff said… 

So long Sammy, see you in Miami… 

It’s been a privilege playing with you… 

May God bless you all!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve...


I am not sure if there are any coaches out there who love winning tennis matches more than I do.  I am not a great fan of losing either but if we learn from a loss, that can often be of more value than some wins.

That being said, these days, I get the most pleasure as a coach, from watching the personal growth of players.  I sometimes feel that my players are not given enough credit and appreciation for all that they do.  Truthfully, it probably bothers me more than them.  The reality is that they do a lot and I am proud of them.

Essentially, only 5% of what we do is play tennis matches!  Yet, this is often what the players are known for or recognized for.  The other 95% is what really makes them great.  What I like to call "the process".  Most coaches know this but most non-coaches do not.   Yes, we do win many tennis matches but that does not happen by accident.  "Those at the top of the mountain did not simply get dropped off there."  It's the 95% that got them there.


Life is really all about the the relationships made and the people served.  God has put us all on the earth to help others that He has placed in our path, for his glory.  This early in life understanding of this notion by many of my players has me most proud and reinforces why I do what I do.  Sometimes this old coach has a bad day, or shall we say some bad moments in a given day, and forgets "the why", so I am blessed to have such a reminder.

Some of our recent service activities are:

  • Delivering hearty meals to those community members in need who would otherwise not be able to provide for themselves via "Meals of Wheels".
  • Set up for, prepared and served the community Thanksgiving dinner at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Bronx, NY.
  • Set up for, prepared and served a fantastic feast at the St. Anthony's Shelter for the homeless in Bronx, NY.






I am so fortunate that the players understand how important service is and that they have an ability to positively affect other people's lives.  Perhaps more important is that they are learning that they have had, and continue to have, so many blessings in their lives that so many others do not.  Further, they are understanding gratitude for these blessings and for their providers.


I am so thankful for this and for those helping us along our way to the top of the mountain.  A special thanks to Concordia College's Director of Student Activities and Spiritual Life, Elizabeth Wagner.

Nuff said...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year 2015



Welcome 2015!

Happy New Year everyone!  Time flies.  It’s so hard for me to believe that the year 2015 is here already.  It seems like only very recent history when everyone was talking about Y2K and fearing that the world was coming to an end January 1, 2000.  I remember the high level of concern (perhaps hysteria) that all computers would fail as the technological year would reset to 00 and would render all financial institutions and government computers helpless to accurately account for anything.  Thankfully we survived and here we are welcoming 2015.

The advent of a new calendar year often brings a multitude of New Year’s Resolutions.  In fact, close to 90% of all adults make these promises to do such acts of self-improvement.  So far this year, I have heard the usual notions of weight loss and improved fitness (something that I can identify with well), a vow of improved manners like opening doors for others, drinking less alcohol, studying more, making better choices...the list is endless.  Unfortunately, the majority of these resolutions and good intentions fall by the wayside before the end of January.  I clearly see this every year at my local gym, Phoenix Fitness.  Phoenix becomes so crowded just after the turn of the year with those vowing to get in shape.  However, by the time February arrives, attendance normalizes, the mob of resolution-makers thins out and I can actually find a vacant treadmill so as to attempt a shedding of my unwanted girth.


A few years ago, thanks to author Jon Gordon, I was introduced to an alternative, I simply select just “one word “ and have that serve as the focus of my year.  I gave it a try and found it to be very rewarding, so I would like to share this experience with all of you for 2015.  I am in the process of instituting this with my teams, local tennis family and really anyone who is willing to listen and participate.  All are welcome to partake.   I am excited to see the results.  Feel-free to share your “one word” in the comment section of this blog posting or contact me via email, Twitter, Facebook or better still, in person. I will include your word in my planned display, anonymously of course.


In case you are interested, for 2013 I selected: “Purpose”.  For 2014, I selected “Service”.  For 2015, I have selected “Faith”.

I hope that 2015 is the best year of your life.  Don't waste even one minute of it.  Love more, serve more, and care more.

I look forward to being with you soon.  God's Blessings to all of you.

Nuff said...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014



Merry Christmas from balmy New York.  It certainly will not be a “White Christmas” today here in the Bronxville area as temperatures are forecasted to approach the 60 degree mark.  Perhaps not so festive but no anticipated travel difficulties nor any shoveling to undertake.

In any case, I would like to extend my most sincere Christmas greetings and also wish you God’s endless blessings not only today but throughout the year.  Of course, the best Christmas present ever received is the gift of Jesus Christ which is an everlasting gift.

Enjoy the balance of 2014 and I look forward to being with all of you soon...


Nuff said...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sunday, February 09, 2014

A Start...



Well we are off to a good start folks.  In case you missed it, your Clippers defeated the Fordham University Rams yesterday at the Meyers Tennis Center 9-0 registering the first of hopefully many wins this season.

One of the big challenges this year will be the formation of our doubles teams.  The last few seasons our teams have been pretty consistent.  However, with the graduation of Andreas, David and Andrey, new pairs need to be identified.  Thankfully, Dani and Benas have stepped up and become a formidable squad that are capable of competing with the best teams in the country as demonstrated by their great fall and current #1 doubles ranking in the country.  With the addition of Rafa, Ofir and Pulat we have players to choose from but we need to find some chemistry for the remaining two doubles teams.  Something tells me that we will do some experimenting as the season begins.  With any good luck we will find three and maybe even four solid pairs.  That being said, what we wrote down in the book yesterday seemed to work pretty well as we swept the three doubles points.


Our good fortune continued in the singles and we were able to grab all six points for the match sweep.  It was nice to see Ofir and Rafa successful in their debuts.  We will need both players to make significant contributions for us to continue our recent success.  As you can see by clicking on the (9-0) above, the scores were pretty one-sided this match.  I have to be honest, I am really not sure if this was due to our great play or a less than enthusiastic performance from Coach Neil's Alma mater.  It seemed to me as though the Rams were not inspired from the moment they arrived in the building.  I certainly feel for Coach Brzov, my friend and former USTA summer league partner, as he has his work cut out for him to get his team to reach its potential.  I hope he can use his tennis smarts to get these guys on track.  I believe that he can and will do just that.

With respect to our performance I was certainly happy with the result at #1 doubles as Dani and Beni were solid and defeated a good pair.  I would like to see them get back to playing with the high energy as they did in the fall but sometimes a one-sided match takes some of that away.  I think that our new guys playing in their first collegiate matches showed their talent and promise but also some opening day jitters.  Pulat, Ofir and Rafa have plenty of experience so I expect that they will get comfortable with match play quickly and become tough outs anywhere in the lineup that they are asked to play.  I am really proud of Juuso.  He has made a great leap and is a legitimate #1 singles player in the division.  He works as hard as anyone on and off the court and his results demonstrate this.  Great things are in store for this young man.  Benas is also very hungry to compete and aspires to be the best he can be.  He is one of the guys that could play at the top for us at this point.  In addition, Ricky picked up two wins for us and looks ready to have a good senior campaign.  He is playing with more confidence and we are counting on him a lot this year.

I hope that this team continues to gel and play for each other.  We really need all eight players working hard and pushing each other to be the best.  At this time we have not achieved this.  We are close but not quite there.    I have tried several tactics to accomplish this and I will keep trying until I get it right.  I have been doing a lot of reading and have a new approach that I hope works for us.  Time will tell.

On another front, it was nice to have a solid amount of fan support at the match.  Included in the group was former AASU Pirate Dan Regan and NYIT Coach Chris Frusci.  Great to have them in Bronxville.


Next up will be Merrimack Saturday 2/22 at 2:30pm.  Hope to see you there.  Coach Neil is sneaking up on his 500th win with the men's team and that will be an amazing day in the history of Concordia athletics.
Until we meet again, God Bless You and be well.

Nuff said...


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Getting Better...



Two questions that I often think about are:   What are you going to do today that will make us a better team? And, how can you make the others around you better?  These apply to players and coaches alike.

I will not bore you all with the specific answers as they are proprietary Clipper coaching secrets and are really aside from my point to a degree.  My contention is that it is of vital importance that any team with aspirations of great success have these thoughts on their mind each and every day. Thomas Edison wrote that "vision without execution is hallucination."  Most players and coaches have a vision.  I would even suggest that most have a strong desire to accomplish great things.  However, as we all know, talk is cheap and actions speak far louder than words.  Essentially, the best players and teams don’t just think about their desire for greatness, they act on it.  They are willing to do what it takes to be great and their success is easily measured by examining the work and effort put forth.

So, generically speaking, how does one get better and make teammates better?  I would suggest that one person in pursuit of excellence raises the standards of everyone around them.  Further, show up and do the ordinary things better than everyone else by practicing, focusing and improving everyday on the little things. Demonstrate a standard to others that leads the way and do not accept anything less from teammates.  The great thing about this is that people will not only remember you for your great accomplishments on the court but also for your contributions that helped the others around you.  Believe it or not, the latter will last longer in other's memories.


If we have focused practice and preparation each day, each week, and each month we will have remarkable results and the success in matches will take care of itself.  I find myself reminding the players and myself during this early part of the season that the National Championship is not simply won on May 17, 2014 but will be won a little each day by how we practice and prepare throughout the season.  One shot and one practice does not seem like very much but if we play each shot and practice every practice with focus over the course of a season it’s a lot.

In actuality, only about 5% of our tennis season is made up of match day performance whereas roughly 95% is made up of the time spent preparing and practicing.  We need to understand that how we practice and prepare with that 95% will determine our match success. Many students, faculty and other student athletes come to our matches and think we are great because of what they see on that match day. What they don't realize is it’s how we prepared for the match that made us perform well.  If we want to be great again this year we have to commit to match preparation which is hours of time spent on the court, in the gym, and running the miles.  All players must invest 100% of their energy.  Any player investing less prevents the team from achieving it's potential and will actually prevent others from being their best.  

Right now we are a January team.  Now, don't get me wrong, I really like my team but we simply have a long way to go.  For your Clippers to have another successful season we will need to focus on becoming a team.  The players need to understand that they all have a role and all need to be striving everyday to get better and make the others better as well.


I truly believe that we are on the correct path and more players are "on the bus".  These next few weeks will be crucial in determining what we will be going forward and if we can reach our potential.

Nuff said...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!!!



Happy New Year!  Welcome 2014!

The advent of a new year means something different to most everyone I speak with.  Some folks are so fed up with 2103 that they are thrilled to witness it's conclusion.  Others express sadness and want to delay the passing of time.  Several are optimists and look forward to great things in the upcoming year...

After some reflection, my official position has aspects of quite a few sentiments.  For me 2013 has been an interesting year.  So much good yet some not so good as well.  So many things to worry about. That being said, my belief is that my best days are ahead of me.  I feel this way not simply because of cockeyed optimism but because I am committed to doing today what will make me better tomorrow. Not always so easy however, at least not for me.  Well, actually, very easy to say but not so easy to implement. Nevertheless, my plan is essentially to care even more about the work that I do and show people even more that I care about them.  I plan to love and serve more.  Also, I intend to get more sleep.  I really need it.


One of the things that I have been thinking about lately is that of purpose.  My purpose has become much more clear to me recently and I look forward to living with this purpose in mind going forward rather than simply chasing the things that I think will make me happy.

Remember everything happens for a reason and too much time is spent worrying about things we cannot control.  I recently read that "nothing wastes more energy than worrying."  Very true indeed.

I will be celebrating NYE at The Cookery with a great meal.  I hope that I make it to 12 midnight to witness the ball drop in Times Square on television.  It seems some years I have fallen asleep on the couch before the countdown.  

I wish all of you a momentous conclusion to 2013 and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!  Make great memories and cherish them.

Nuff said...