June 2, 2014
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech assistant men’s tennis coach Derek Schwandt has been named to the coaching staff for the USTA Collegiate National Team, a high-level training program designed to help top American college players make a smooth transition to professional tennis.
Schwandt has served as assistant coach for the Tech men’s team the last two years and has been instrumental in helping head coach Kenny Thorne assemble two highly-ranked recruiting classes (11th in 2013 and 14th in 2014) for the Yellow Jackets.
Schwandt, who played collegiately at Richmond and worked two years as a volunteer assistant coach at Virginia, will be coaching, training, and traveling with the Cavalier’s two-time ITA All-American singles champion, Mitchell Frank. The summer program consists of two training weeks and six professional tournaments (combination of ITF futures and ATP challengers). The first series of tournaments are the Buffalo, N.Y., Rochester, N.Y., and Pittsburgh, Pa., ITF futures events.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to work with the USTA on this outstanding team of players and coaches,” said Schwandt. “I believe that I will learn a lot from this experience and build some meaningful relationships. These players are driven to succeed on the pro tour after college. It will be awesome to help them push towards their goals. I really appreciate that Kenny and Georgia Tech have supported me in pursuing this opportunity to grow as a coach and help our program at Tech in the process.”
The collegiate team program, headed by USTA national coach and player development director Dustin Taylor, began in 1996 and has since helped shepherd players, including John Isner (Georgia), James Blake (Harvard) and Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford) on to the men’s pro tour and Mallory Burdette (Stanford), Irina Falconi (Georgia Tech) and Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) on the women’s.
The team consists of six men and six women, and Taylor recently named some of the country’s top coaches to work with the national collegiate team – three on the men’s side and three on the women’s.
On the men’s side, Schwandt joins Bo Hodge, associate head coach at the University of Oklahoma, who is returning for his fourth year on the national team staff, and Brett Ross, associate head coach at Wake Forest, who is coming back for his second year. Schwandt is making his debut as a USTA Collegiate National Team coach this year.
Former Tech men’s star West Nott (2002-04), currently the associate head coach for the women’s team at Southern California, is working his second year on the staff for the USTA women’s team, which also includes Lee Taylor-Walker, head coach at the University of Memphis, who is returning for his second year, and Felix Alvarado, the assistant general manager and director of tennis at the John McEnroe Academy at Randall’s Island.
“The goal of the Collegiate National Team is to help our top collegians make the extremely tough transition into a career and life on the professional tour,” said Taylor, who heads up the USTA Collegiate National Team for USTA Player Development.
At one time, the Collegiate National Team only convened during the summer, but it is now a year-round program that gives American college players opportunities to participate in USTA Pro Circuit events and the annual international Master’U competition in France. The players also have the chance to serve as practice partners for the U.S. Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams, and they receive appropriate funding, coaching, training and other competitive opportunities throughout the year, courtesy of USTA Player Development, which administers the team, along with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
This year, for the first time ever, members of the collegiate team will also have the opportunity to play in a new event on one of the world’s biggest stages – the US Open. The inaugural American Collegiate Invitational will take place during the second week of the year’s final Grand Slam, Sept. 4-6, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
About Georgia Tech Men’s Tennis
Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team is in its 17th year under head coach Kenny Thorne. The Yellow Jackets have played in the NCAA Championship 14 times. Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Tennis on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GT_MTEN). For more information on Tech men’s tennis, visit Ramblinwreck.com.