The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) in partnership with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced the creation of a ten-month coach mentorship and development program.

The pilot program will consist of 12 mentorship pairs – a veteran college coach will be paired with an up-and-coming coach. The mentorship pairs span the divisions and include assistant coaches as well as head coaches.

“The USTA is excited that the ITA has decided to partner with the USTA to implement a Mentoring Program to benefit young collegiate coaches,” Martin Blackman, USTA General Manager of Player Development, said. “Over the last seven years, thanks to the work of Dr. Paul Lubbers and Jessica Battaglia the USTA has used various Mentoring Programs to match Champions with players, facilitate Diverse Coach mentoring and guide young coaches. This is a great opportunity to expand the impact of that template thanks to the visionary leadership of the ITA.”

“We were delighted to receive over 60 applicants for this program in the first year of its inception,” David Mullins, ITA Managing Director of Community Engagement and Coach Empowerment, said. “The quality and qualifications of the applicants was outstanding and we wish it were possible to accommodate more coaches. We hope that will be the case in future years as we learn more lessons throughout the evolution of this exciting new program.”

Mentors and mentees will participate in an orientation with Michigan State’s Dr. Dan Gould and Dr. Jenny Nalepa. The virtual orientation will take place during August. The pairs will dive into their mentorship skill sets, learn effective communication skills, and establish their coach developmental goals.The orientation will lay a foundation to ensure that the participants make the most of the program.

Additionally, all participants will go through the True North Sports Coach Development Academy. The programming will help the coaches develop their team philosophy, culture and program structure. 

The participating coaches will also receive free registration to the ITA Coaches Convention. The Coaches Convention offers coaches a wide variety of career development opportunities. Past presenters include Stan Smith, Patrick McEnroe, Chris Evert, Craig O’Shannessy, and Roger Crawford.

“We are delighted to partner with our friends at the United States Tennis Association in launching this exciting initiative,” Timothy Russell, Chief Executive Officer of the ITA, added. “Coach education and professional development are important priorities for both of our organizations. I believe that the program will truly be a life changing experience for the mentees, and hopefully for the mentors as well. These relationships will hopefully continue to develop well beyond the initial ten months of this program.” 

Applications for the second year of the ITA/USTA college coach mentorship program commencing in the summer of 2021 will open in March, 2021. Updates and applications links will be made available in the Coach Education Newsletter.

2020-21 ITA USTA Mentees

Natalia Pluskota

Gonzaga University Women’s Assistant Coach

Jason Proctor

Oklahoma Baptist University Head Men’s & Women’s Coach

Taylor Hollander

Sacramento State University Women’s Assistant Coach

Xander Centenari

Dartmouth College Head Men’s Coach

Darnesha Moore

Alcorn St. University Head Men’s & Women’s Coach

Max Koller

Stetson University Men’s Assistant Coach

Alison Flores

Gettysburg College Head Men’s & Women’s Coach

Tonya McGraner

Houghton College Head Men’s & Women’s Coach

Raleigh Grossbaum

Men’s Tennis Coach

Elizabeth Lumpkin

University of Oregon Women’s Assistant Coach

Lola Oredugba

Tennessee State University Head Men’s & Women’s Coach

Leah Bush

Whitman College Women’s Assistant Coach

Ramona Staton

Johnson C. Smith University Head Men’s & Women’s Coach

Learn more about the ITA’s coach services.

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