Friday, April 20, 2012

FGCU Women's Tennis Taking Advantage of Opportunities

It has been a long year for the FGCU Eagles women’s tennis team – but it has been a good year. To many, the Eagles have exceeded all expectations, more than doubling their wins from three to seven in 2011-2012. They also did this while their Head Coach Jennifer Gabou was on maternity leave since February.

However, despite the obstacle of not having their head coach, the Eagles have not strayed or lost sight of the goal – to make it to the A-Sun championship. Assistant Head Coach Joey Barnes has been extremely impressed with their progress over the past two seasons.

“The team has really improved a lot,” Barnes said. “I’m not going to lie to you – they have really gone out and done their best. They’ve been doing everything that Coach Gabou has set up.

“You count your wins, your losses and your prayers and say, ‘OK it’s been good but you know what we have a lot of work to do,’” he said.

Barnes, who has been the assistant at FGCU for the past three seasons, stepped in for Gabou in her absence. Barnes explained that while she is not here he has continued to follow her plan to the letter.

“We have followed her program path. I tell everyone that what you are seeing is the beginning of what her dream was.”

Barnes, who helped coach at the University of Maryland for nearly 20 years, says he is just trying to implement Gabou’s blueprint.

“I was a coach for almost 20 years, so it’s almost like stepping from one shoe into another. Basically Coach Gabou has a plan and I am executing it.”

Barnes admits he may be a bit tougher than Coach Gabou, but with nearly 26 years in the military that is to be expected.

“I don’t look at things as a challenge. I see them as an opportunity,” Barnes said. “Every team brings something new to the table. I think your job as a coach is to find out how you can bring out the best in your players. Some players are going to be upper echelon, some players are going to be middle-of-the-road and some players you are just going to have to pull them up by their bootstraps. 

I don’t think that’s a challenge, but more of an opportunity.”

FGCU now has an opportunity to pick up the Eagles' second Division I postseason victory after advancing to the semifinals by defeating Jacksonville, 4-2.

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