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.
So long Sammy, see you in Miami…
It’s been a privilege playing with you…
May God bless you all!