NOTE: AUTHOR ASHLEY MANN
As head coach for the men’s and women’s tennis teams and a Mercer graduate, Warren Woolfolk understands what it takes to succeed in this game. He sat down with The Cluster to answer a few questions.
Cluster: Having recently assumed the role of coach, what changes do you hope to make in the tennis program?
Woolfolk: Hopefully victories, for one. In the last six or seven years the team hasn’t had a season that has been over 500. Last year was my first season, and the men finished right at 500 and the women about the same. Two, is just a stronger regimen as far as practice goes. That includes more conditioning and stronger focus on getting better.
C: How have you been able to relate to your players on their level, having been a Mercer athlete yourself?
W: Being a player here at Mercer really helped me to understand what the athletes are going through as far as the toughness of the academic regimen. I was in the English literature department when I was here, so I understand the school is very tough academically. On one hand I can understand what the kids have to go through academically, and on the other [I understand]the level of competition in the Atlantic-Sun Conference. It really helps me in recruiting, knowing what level player to bring in as far as how to be successful within the conference.
C: Did you explore other options or did you always know that you wanted to end up coaching?
W: I always did. When I graduated I was a tennis pro at Macon’s Idle Hour Country Club, and that was a stepping stone to being a head coach at a university. Since I graduated, my dream was to come back here and coach.
C: How did you become involved in the game of tennis?
W: I was always a baseball and football player growing up. I did not start playing tennis until I was 12, which is kind of late. My parents took me out to the courts after baseball practice, and I loved it.
C: Looking back at the past year, how would you classify your men and women’s team progress?
W: Tremendous progress. Our teams this year are altogether more athletic, and there is a chemistry within both teams that we have never had in the past. Everyone wants to win, and everyone is committed to tennis. Commitment is the number one issue that the team has lacked in the past decade. Everyone has stepped up their level of commitment in the tennis program.
C: The women’s team has only won two matches this season. How will you plan on them being able to turn it around during the latter part of the season?
W: Our women’s team is very young. We are really in a rebuilding phase with our women’s team. This year I did not expect to have a lot of wins, but I had hoped to. Next year we will probably see more results.
C: What’s one of the more important characteristics to have as a tennis player?
W: Work ethic. If you give 100 percent work ethic into whatever you do, you are going to be successful most of the time. You’re are not always going to be successful — for example, our women’s team. However, results will come and hard work pays off.