Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Coach and Tennis Parent Darren Cahill on UTR's All-Access; CMS's Daniel Park Wins ITA Lebedeff Leadership Award; MAC Eliminates Post-Season Tournaments; NCAA Announces Top Schools in Academic Progress Rate

UTR President Anne Worcester and Darren Cahill
Darren Cahill, the ESPN commentator and current coach of WTA star Simona Halep, was the guest on UTR's All-Access webinar tonight from his home in Australia. Cahill spoke about coaching Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Halep and what he learned about the profession and himself over the past 20 years.

Cahill is also a tennis parent, and he revealed tonight that his son Benjamin will be joining the UNLV team this fall (pandemic permitting). As you can see, Cahill is already representing the Running Rebels with his choice of sweatshirt. Here is his advice from his perspective as both a coach and a parent.

"I think I'm in a good position to talk about this, because I'm a pro tennis coach with a young son who wants to be a pro tennis player," Cahill said. "All he's been concerned about for the last 10 years is his UTR ranking, because he wants to go off to US college. With him growing up basically in Las Vegas the last twenty years, he's always had a great desire to play for the Rebels."

"A little bit is up in the air, as to whether we can even get him back into the country at the moment, but it's looking like he'll go back to Vegas at some point, to UNLV, so we're really proud of him for sticking to his guns and chasing his dream to play college tennis."

"I tell most of the parents, let the coaches do what they do, and that's be the coach," Cahill said. "And then I tell the coaches, include the parents. Because I'm the parent of Benjamin and I know if Benjamin's coach is not including me in the process, I feel a little let out, and I know what's going to happen. I'm going to get him on the court and I'm going to start coaching him, like any parent. And it's a little bit wrong for me to do that, because I may be giving a different message to Benjamin as to what his coach back here in South Australia is giving him.

"So it's two things: let the coaches do what they do if you're a parent, and have the trust that the coach knows what they're doing. Ask as many questions as you want, but ask those questions of the coach. If the coach is worth his mettle, he or she, then they'll be able answers those questions for you effectively. But I think it's really important to include the parents as much as possible: to call them, give them updates, to let them know where they're heading with certain decisions about their game and to educate them through this process between going from a junior to transitioning to the ATP or WTA tours. Because it's a rough ride, and if you don't include the parents in the journey, I think parents become more problems and complicate that journey more than anything."

The next UTR All-Access webinar will feature Toni Nadal, hosted by Andre Sa, in Spanish, on Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Next Tuesday's All-Access webinar has 2016 NCAA champions Mackenzie McDonald and Danielle Collins as guests. Registration is here. Registration for additional UTR virtual events, on a variety of topics, is here.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps senior Daniel Park was named the winner of this year's ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award. The award, given to honor a recent college graduate for contributions on and off the court, is now in its third year and is endowed by Billie Jean King. Park, a two-time captain at CMS, will graduate this month with a degree in Science Management with a sequence in Public Health, certainly a relevant degree now.

“Daniel is a student-athlete leader unlike any I have ever worked with in my seventeen years as a head coach,” CMS Head Coach Paul Settles said. “His maturity, poise, and self-awareness are beyond measure for a young man of only twenty-one years of age.”

For more on Park and the award, see this release from the ITA.

The pandemic fallout for the 2021 Division I college tennis season has begun, and not just in the many graduate transfers and returning fifth-year seniors that have been announced in the past month. Today, the Mid-American Conference, which is the conference that includes Western Michigan University here in Kalamazoo, has announced it will not hold conference tournaments for several sports in 2021 and for three years after that. This includes both men and women's tennis, which have historically been contenders for conference titles.  Now regular season records will decide the conference champion, and whether that team continues to receive an automatic bid for the NCAAs remains to be seen. For more on this decision, see this CBS Sports article.

The NCAA today announced the Division I Top 10 percent of teams in the annual Academic Progress Rate, a grading system that the NCAA has been using for 15 years.  As usual, tennis is well represented in these Public Recognition Awards, including last year's men's NCAA champion Texas. Columbia received the most Public Recognition awards this year, with 22 teams, 92% of their total number of teams, recognized.

A total of 132 women's tennis teams, all receiving perfect scores, and 76 men's tennis teams, were honored. The most recent APRs are multiyear rates based on scores from the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

The list for the other 90% will be available next Tuesday.