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...
Good morning folks. Yes, normally Monday morning is a time to be a bit sluggish as one starts the work week. Well, not this week. 80 degrees and sunny and ready to hit the courts for another practice.
As usual, in condo VDL 1/7 we have a tale of two coaches. Yours truly up early and to the gym followed by a blog update for your benefit, and now ready to make a coaches breakfast. The old coach, Coach Tarangioli, still asleep. I am willing to cut him a little slack as he is still recovering from a bad cold, which has prompted the ever so kind act of my keeping the air conditioner fixed to above 65 degrees in the condo. By this time, I would have that thermostat hovering around 58 degrees, but hey, even I have a heart.
We have a 10am practice and then hopefully some time to relax at the pool or beach...perhaps some sight-seeing in town. I have been coming here since 1987, with some gaps, and have continued my Ponce de Leon-esque search for the famed fountain of youth, but have yet to be successful. We will hit the courts for a second practice in the afternoon sun, which will be our final practice before match play.
Today I will institute a strict sunscreen rule. Many players did not use the good judgement with respect to sunscreen application and have come away looking the color of last night's lobster at the South Beach Grill.
Ok, I must now wake up Coach T. Time to make the donuts.
A long day! Up at 5am. To JFK. 8:15am to JAX International. Safe arrival at JAX. One plus hour drive to St. Augustine and Ocean Gallery. Unpack. Hit the courts for a 2 hour practice. Shower (I hope the whole team had a shower). Off to CiCi's Pizza (which I will never, ever do again). Winn Dixie for grocery shopping...yes I still have my Winn Dixie card. A little television and sleep...sleep...and some more sleep. A heck of a day indeed.
I must say that we did look pretty good out there for our first outdoor practice of the year. Of course, there are many things to adjust to including the sun, wind, temperature and the passing by of young coeds. All can distract the college tennis player. However, for the most part, we were unfazed. Now I am not going to tell you that we looked as good as we do indoors in the perfect conditions of tennis, but for the most part, not too shabby. Always a good thing when I don't witness the cursing or the racquet throwing.
In any case, after a nice night of sleep, I woke of and visited the resort gym. Certainly not going to be mistaken for Phoenix Fitness back in NY, but enough to get the job done. Today is another day of tennis and preparation on the courts. We will have two sessions today at 12 noon and again in the evening. It is a nice advantage this year to have an extra day to prepare for our first match. In addition, we have scheduled a bit wiser and have our important matches at the end of the week.
Well I am off to get the coffee for Coach T. and then to the courts. After practice I hope to take a jaunt to the beach and soak up some rays. I may even retrieve my skim board this year and have a go at it. I will be sure to alert the Flagler Hospital ER just in case. I am sure that they remember me there as I think I have an outstanding bill.
Well after flirting with spring, 65 degree temperatures and some possible outdoor tennis, which sadly did not come to pass, we are finally off to Florida for our annual spring trip. For sure, we will have some warmer pastures in the near future that accommodate outdoor play, not to mention the resort jacuzzi.
We will leave early for the airport tomorrow morning and barring any NY air traffic quagmire, should arrive in St. Augustine, FL, via JAX (Jacksonville airport) just after lunch time.
Generally, we get settled and relax for a tad and then right to the courts, which are indeed located on the grounds of Ocean Gallery, where we are staying. It is always a stiff challenge to get acclimated to the outdoor tennis conditions that most Clipper fans know are quite a bit different from the perfect conditions of our indoor facilities. However, I believe that our players will be up to the challenge and actually thrive in the presence of the slower game that requires a bit more patience. As we all know, we will need to do just that in order to reach our goals and defeat some of the division's (NCAA II/NAIA) best teams while here.
Spring Trip Matches: Tuesday 3/1 at Embry Riddle @ 3:30pm (#3 NAIA)
Wednesday 3/2 at Flagler College @ 2:30pm (#17 NCAA II)Thursday 3/3 at Rollins College @ 2:00pm (#6 NCAA II)Friday 3/4 vs. Barry University @ Flagler College @ 12noon (#1 NCAA II)
We would all definitely appreciate your well-wishes, support and prayers as we embark on our tennis journey. We have a unique opportunity to do something very special and can also establish ourselves as a top 5 NCAA II team and a threat to capture the NCAA II National Championship in May.
I will have my trusty notebook computer and flip video camera and will thus keep you apprised of our happenings throughout the trip. Stay tuned.
Just a quick Thursday shout out to Coach Neil and his daughter Jess. They are out on college visitation tour 2011. Since Coach T. loves to fly, I am sure he is quite happy about the multiple city event.
With yours truly at the helm, we are getting ready for our upcoming Florida trip this Saturday. Check back a little later for a comprehensive Florida preview.
Good news! Your Clipper tennismen defeated FDU today 8-1. Playing a bit shorthanded, without Andrey Boldarev, this afternoon, the squad was still able to sneak by the NCAA I FDU Knights.
Without Andrey in the lineup, we asked #2 and #3 doubles to move up a position. Geza and Tamas were up to the challenge as they defeated a solid #1 FDU pair 9-7. Unfortuneately, David and Andreas could not find the good serving today and lost at #2 rather easily 8-3. Daniele and Felix, pairing up for the first time, were able to get the victory at #3 8-5 after falling behind early.
After a short break, we were all business in the singles matches. Daniele, showing the good tennis that we expect, set the tone and won easily 6-0, 6-2 at #1. Also impressive was David Tisserand who made quick work of his opponent at #3 6-0, 6-1. If David can continue to play well and keep improving, we will be very tough to beat going forward. In addition, Felix Missal had a rather short match at #6 6-0, 6-1. Tamas was victorious at #2 6-4, 6-2 and Andreas won at #4 6-2, 6-3. In the match of the day, Geza Bazula gutted out a 3-set thriller 7-6, 2-6, 10-3. Geza really played well in spurts but was not as consistant with the good play as we need him to be. However, when the match was on the line, he demonstrated experience and toughness.
It was a pretty solid effort by the team today and we appreciated the fine support from the fans. It is always difficult to play without one of your top players and the team showed depth for sure. Of course, we will need to improve our doubles going forward. In the NCAA D2 format, doubles is so important. You realy have to get out and play well right from the start. If we can get a lead going into the singles, we will be hard to beat.
Lastly, and something that I always expect, the team did show an ability to make the great get and make our opponents play an extra ball. I thought we were outplayed at times but the fact that we ran down so many balls really created pressure for our opponents this afternoon.
Next up for the Clippers will be NAIA powerhouse Embry Riddle currently ranked #3 in the nation. This is always a tough match and ERAU is vastly improved this season. The conditions are usually pretty difficult in Daytona as well. The match vs. ERAU will be the first of four in our Florida spring break trip. Please wish us luck and follow our results.
That's right Clipper fans, it's a match day. Come on down to the MTC at 2:15pm to witness the team vs. the Knights of FDU. FDU is an NCAA D1 program that always provides stiff competition and good match preparation for our upcoming trip to Florida 2/26/11.
Make sure to say hello to Coach Dano while you are there.
The following is an excerpt from the Brain Game blog...
I had a great trip to Concordia College in New York over the weekend, presenting my new Brain Game presentation, Good To Great. Concordia is a high-level Div. 2 program that has national title aspirations this year. Thanks to coaches Neil Tarangioli and Daniel Rockhill for inviting me up for the presentation. I always have a really good time doing it, and the audience was fantastic!
What a great experience! Today we welcomed Craig O'Shannessy to Concordia for his Brain Game strategy presentation. All in attendance most certainly learned quite a bit and we all look forward to using the strategies on the court in both singles and doubles.
I was very impressed with Craig and his ability to interact with his audience. He was able to create a nice dialogue and also an environment that allowed all to share their opinions without fear of being embarrassed.
I am really looking forward to a great week of practice implementing Craig's ideas and patterns. I know that this will benefit us when we play against the nation's best teams.
We will return to the home match courts vs. FDU this coming Friday 2/18 at 2:30pm. As always, our next match is the only one that matters and the most important match of the season. We will be sure to play it that way.
Highlighting today's victory were the first Clipper dual match singles wins for Daniele Piludu, Ricardo Frey and Geza Bazula. Also, David Tisserand, who did not play singles today due to minor injury, chalked up his first dual match doubles win. Both Geza and Dani secured initial doubles wins as well.
It is always exciting to play the first match of the season, especially for the newcomers. Even though we had a bit more talent than STAC, I was impressed by the way that the team took care of business and never took their collective foot off the gas. It is really important to make quick work of the inferior teams and focus on playing every point well. This is the only way to prepare for the tougher competition down the road.
Next up for the Clippers will be the NCAA I FDU Knights, Friday 2/18, with a 2:30pm start. Clearly, we will need to be at our best to beat FDU as they always battle and fight to the finish.
In addition, we welcome Craig O'Shannessy and the Brian Game to Concordia tomorrow. We look forward to Craig's presentation and insights. We expect a substantial benefit and contribution to our team's success this season.
Well Clipper fans, it's that time of the year! It's time for the home opener. Tomorrow, Friday 2/11, we have our first match of the 2011 spring season versus STAC. First serve is scheduled for 2:30pm.
We know that STAC is greatly improved from our NYCAC / ECC days and we expect a good effort from the Spartans. In any case, it is very important to be sharp in every match in order to prepare for the big matches against the nation's elite just down the road on the calendar.
All of you serious Clipper fans can follow the match live on twitter for updates and scores.
If you are in the area, please join us at the Meyers Tennis Center on our campus for the match. Make sure to say hello to Coach Dano and wish us well.
I was perusing the ITA “latest results” web page when lo and behold, I stumbled upon a record for Assumption College. It seems as though the Greyhounds lost, a not so tight match, to Nichols College 6-3, a small NCAA III school not known for any sort of tennis prowess.
For those of you that are new fans of Clipper tennis, Assumption, for a decade under coach John Ippolito was a dominant force in the region. Of course, they were not only known for their tennis ability, but also for their thug-like act at the direction of their coach, who was a strong character for sure.
It is hard to believe though that it has been over four years since the Assumption team has been competitive. Indeed, after Coach Ippilito left, the program really is, well, not much of one. However, at one time, Assumption was where we wanted to be. They were always in the top few in the East Region, always conference champions, and always a threat to advance to the NCAA Final 16. Seems strange to uncover that the last time they did in fact advance to the National 16 was way back in 2002.
I am really kind of torn here. I really didn’t like the Assumption teams much. They were often abrasive, abusive, obnoxious, and downright unpleasant on and off the court. Truthfully however, there were indeed some players, like Sean Kenney, who was among the best in the country, that were always nice and respectful to me, but most of the others...not so much. In any case, like I said, I am torn. I miss the competition at the NCAA II level in our region. I miss Kuztown, Bloomsburg (although not the trips there and the subsequent weather), and yes, even Assumption. They set the bar of excellence in the region. They showed me what I needed to do to get to the top. There comes a point at which a competitive guy like myself gets tired of losing the big matches and needs to do something about it. So I did. Yet, if it wasn’t for Assumption and others, to some degree, our success, which clearly has risen to a level above our former competitors, may not be so plentiful. For this I am thankful.
It is a bit sad to see the Greyhounds at their current level. However, I bet that their conference rivals like Bentley and Merrimack relish the opportunity to beat up on them after so many years of the reverse. I suspect that, even for them, it will get old some day.
I hope that one day Assumption tennis gets back to a level of success. We could sorely use another major player/rival in the region. Under new direction and with new players, I am sure that sportsmanship is better these days on the courts for the Greyhounds. It is sad that the last time I saw Assumption was in 2007 at the East Regional final. We beat them 5-0 and advanced to the Sweet 16. In a disappointing display, the Greyhound players after the match, were calling us cheaters, insisting that I was using illegal players, and trying to instigate a physical confrontation. Yes, unfortunately, that is my last memory of Assumption tennis. Oh well, the future is bright at Concordia and who knows, perhaps also at Assumption
I got involved with Concordia Tennis as a way to honor my parents who were both professors and coaches at the college back in the 1960's and also to give back to the program 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 am here to love, serve, care for and lead my teams...
"I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters, and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others he has placed in my path." - Ben Stein
"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy." - Arthur Ashe
“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” - Knute Rockne
“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven't done anything today.” - Lou Holtz
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." - Vince Lombardi
"The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break." - John Madden
"Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
"Success is a journey, not a destination." - Arthur Ashe
"Champions keep playing until they get it right." - Billie Jean King
"Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play." - Mike Singletary
"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden
"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top." - O.J. Simpson
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
"If you want to be good, focus on making yourself better. If you want to be great, focus on making yourself and your team better." - Jon Gordon