Serving up a fresh start

The men and women’s tennis team welcomes new coach, Greg Couch. Couch was ranked a top 10 junior tennis player in the state of Colorado where he won state for high school doubles and played low-level professional tennis tournaments. He moved around a lot throughout his life and eventually ended up in Kansas becoming a top-five in the state. However, coaching wasn’t always the path for him, as he first attended Colorado University to be an accountant. 

Unlike his family, who are mostly bankers, Couch came to a different conclusion early in his college career. “I got a D in a calculus class and thought, ‘I’ll find something else.’” While trying to find that “something else,” he started working for a student-run newspaper that conducted interviews in the student union at Colorado. It was there that his journalism career began and eventually took off.

After working for several different newspapers such as Chicago Sun-Times, The Guardian and New York Times, Couch wanted to do something new. With nine months left on his contract at FoxSports, he got a job as a tennis coach at Eola Tennis Academy where current Flyer, Sage Hills, took lessons.

Couch took to the job quickly. On his first day, he coached two girls and thought they swung the racket better than he ever did. On the other hand, a tall eighth-grade girl struggled. She was self-conscious about her height so she hunched over and neglected her strength. Couch knew that the athlete just needed a boost of confidence and encouragement. He told her to “hit the ball over the back fence.” He explained that his goal was “to make her feel strong and stand like Wonder Woman.” 

Although she was confused, the player hit the ball as Couch instructed her. Instantly, she realized her strength. She started to stand with her head held high, playing with a new found confidence. Looking back on the experience, Couch said “I felt, this is it! I’m helping her as a human being.”

Couch’s coaching journey is as impressive as his journalism career. After Eola Tennis Academy he coached at Roosevelt University for five years and had multiple winning seasons with both the men’s and women’s programs. He also won the 2019 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year. 

Couch is not your traditional coach, as he is very much still “the boss,” drills are run and organized by the players. He admits that discipline is “not a strength of mine.” In a meeting, Couch had both the men’s and women’s discuss team values that “matter to them on the tennis court.” Through an open and honest conversation, all players decided on 11 team values such as courage, toughness and positivity. Couch used this activity to help them hold each other accountable. “When the team is coming up with what matters to [them], they’re going to abide by it.”

Couch arrived in June and has already made an impact with both the men’s and women’s team. Couch says “This team is unbelievable. I’m so lucky to have these players.” While the main season doesn’t start until the second semester, there is a new culture being cultivated here and it all starts with coach Couch.    

Photo Credits: Grace Sueflohn

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *