Two collegiate women’s tennis teams clashed on the tennis courts in San Marcos last week; one from the Northeast, the other from Texas. The match was not played between teams from the same conference; it was between teams led by the two head coaches of the NCAA Division 1 women’s tennis programs, with mutual respect for each other and a long, deep connection in Texas. There are 264 Division 1 women’s tennis teams in the United States; in 2020 (latest statistics available) only 39 of these teams, less than 20%, were run by women. In 2023, among the major D1 tennis coaches, the coaching lineage for two of them runs through the Austin Tennis Academy.
Lucie Schmidhauser* and Kendall Brooks hone their coaching skills at the ATA. “For me personally, it’s incredibly rewarding to be part of their coaching journey,” said Jack Newman, owner/CEO of the Austin Tennis Academy. “Coach Kendall Brooks and Coach Lucie Schmidhauser are two individuals of the highest quality and character that I have had the pleasure of working with. I can’t imagine two more qualified and talented coaches who could lead young college athletes.”
Brooks is a freshman at Texas State University and Schmidhauser is in his 5th yearp year at Brown University. Schmidhauser is starting to reap the fruits of what she and her team have been implementing for the last 4 years. Brooks is just beginning to shape and build his show. Even though the two coaches are in different places with their teams, they each thank the ATA and Jack Newman for giving them the tools they say they still use on a daily basis as D1 college tennis coaches.
“What the ATA does is proven. It works,” said Lucie Schmidhauser, Head Women’s Coach/Brown University. “I’ve basically been using the system for 5 years. When I first took over, we clearly weren’t that good. This year we won – for the first time since 1996 – the big Ivy League tournament, which takes place every February. This year we are approaching the 42nd place in the country and I think this is the first time since 2014 that women’s tennis bronze has been ranked. It takes some time, but it definitely works.”
“I learned so much both as a person and as a coach at ATA under Jack; how to develop players and properly teach the game better and understand it better,” said Kendall Brooks, Texas State Women’s Head Coach. “As a college coach, at certain levels, you still do well with developing players. You want the players who come to you to be able to continue to help improve, improve things here and there. For the most part, their game is intact, but you still have a lot of development to do. I’m still proud to be a coach who can develop players even this late in the game.
“Champion” is a term Schmidhauser uses to refer to Coach Newman’s ability to motivate players to want to be better and truly emotionally strong on the court. Bronze players are no strangers to this kind of work. “We have a so-called ‘Point-to-Point Procedure’ where we’re working to establish point-to-point procedures, and that’s something our team is non-negotiable,” said Schmidhauser. “It’s not often you see any of our players have emotional outbursts on court or not look strong in body language. This is very important to our team culture and our competitive spirit.”
Mental tools like emotional control, visualization, and scripting are things Schmidhauser derived from the ATA and continues to use consistently. “Our team performs many mindfulness exercises before each practice. Our players visualize. We’re working on scripts for their games,” Schmidhauser said. “I learned from both coach Doug Davis and Jack how to script your game, record it in your own voice and then listen to it before going on court to be completely clear about how you want to play.”
Outside of the professional tour, college athletics is considered by many to be the pinnacle of tennis coaching. Being successful is often about more than what happens on the court. “As a D1 College coach, you really run a business,” Brooks said. “I mean, you decide who to give scholarships to, you decide who to recruit, you develop a team culture, and you try to set your program on a good footing. I learned all of that at the ATA.” To begin building those strong foundations, Schmidhauser remembers exactly what her focus was when she first took over Brown’s program. “As a freshman coach, I put the greatest emphasis on looking for players who were not only athletically gifted, were good players, but I definitely emphasized good character.”
Both women point to Coach Newman’s ability to build a strong culture as one of his superpowers, and they definitely want to hone it as part of their own skill set. “The way he established the culture at ATA: very family oriented, growing important citizens,” Brooks said. “I am constantly striving to make my players better not only on the court, but also off the court and in the community, and to be young women. Giving them the opportunity to learn how to be good leaders.” Schmidhauser echoed these feelings. “I am happy to report that our team culture is really strong and all my players are strong, passionate women with good character. It’s definitely something I picked up from the ATA and I’ll definitely continue that torch.”
* Voted Ivy League Coach of the Year 2023