Saturday, April 21, 2012

Age and Experience Don't Always Go Hand in Hand

After undergoing coaching changes over the summer and fall on the men’s and women’s tennis squads, the possibility of both teams making it to the conference final wasn’t extremely likely for the North Florida Ospreys.

Head Coach Audra Cohen and Adam Schaecterle were hired over the summer to direct the women’s and men's tennis programs. Both Cohen and Schaecterle faced the obstacle of gaining the respect of their players.

“I look even younger than I actually am. I’m 28 years old but I look like I’m still in college,” Schaecterle said with a laugh.

Cohen ended her collegiate career in 2007 and Schaecterle in 2006. The two are some of the youngest coaches in the A-Sun, but still managed to lead the Ospreys to the top-seed in women’s tennis championship and the No. 2 seed in men’s.

Cohen says that what’s helped her most as a coach is drawing from her own success on the courts while in college. Cohen became the only woman in history to reach the NCAA final competing at two different schools (Northwestern and Miami). She also won the 2007 NCAA singles championship while at Miami.

“It’s really, really important that I have had such a great career as a player and I’ve been around a lot of teams because I am very young.”

Another hurdle facing Cohen was that she only had four players on the team when she arrived in June. She had to scramble to pick up some student-athletes to be eligible to compete. She said she utilized her stellar college career to help bring players to North Florida.

“I think players always respect a good player and know that a good player needs to know what it takes to get to the next level if they do want to go on tour in the future or have a great collegiate career,” she said. “They are going to look for a coach that they feel can get them better and prepare them for that level. I think that is definitely a huge part of my recruiting tools.”

Cohen also feels that her own personal triumphs help her coach the girls when it comes down to big moments, like conference championships.

“Going in to big moments, I feel like I’ve been here and I’ve done it in many different ways, and at even higher levels – at finals of NCAA’s. Handling the big moments is really when I think the experience shows a lot.”

Schaecterle said that when he was hired at North Florida he knew he had to be tough on the guys at first.

“I think for me the most important thing was the first week or two I was at UNF I worked them incredibly hard and then I think they understood that I was pretty serious and focused. So there was a certain respect level there.”

Schaecterle said he also draws on his own personal successes as well. He led the Northwestern Wildcats to a berth in the 2005 NCAA Championships and also qualified individually for the 2006 NCAA Doubles Championship.

“Our relationship is a little bit more relaxed than maybe some older head coaches might be,” he said about his team.

“I think that the first two weeks of setting the tone for what my expectation level was made them understand that yes, I might be young, but I’m still going to be extremely professional about the way I go about things.”

For Schaecterle and Cohen the regular season at North Florida couldn’t have gone better. The women’s tennis team went undefeated in conference play and the doubles squads went a combined 27-0 in A-Sun play. The men’s team enjoyed a Division I-high No. 50 ITA ranking and also downed then No. 42 South Alabama and then No. 33 UNC Wilmington in back-to-back days.

Their successes continued into the postseason as the North Florida women’s tennis team made it to their third consecutive championship final and the men’s tennis team halted Stetson’s run for an eighth consecutive championship final berth.

The North Florida men’s team will face five-time defending champion ETSU in the championship final at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow to try and secure the Ospreys first-ever men’s tennis conference championship.

Whereas, the North Florida women’s tennis team will take on defending-champion ETSU in a rematch of last year’s championship final and try an bring home UNF’s second women’s tennis conference title in three years.

1 comment:

  1. Adam Schaechterle ROCKS! He is the next John Wooden of college coaching!


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