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Stephen Huss blog: I embrace the opportunity to teach and coach

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January 31, 2017 10:17 AM

Stephen Huss currently serves as a USTA National Coach for Women's Tennis in the USTA Player Development Department. Huss (pictured above right) competed on the pro tour for 11 years and, in 2005, teamed with Wesley Moodie to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title, becoming the first team ever to qualify into the tournament and go on to win the championship. Huss, a native of Australia, played college tennis at Auburn University from 1996-2000, earning All-America honors in doubles in 1998 and singles in 2000.

After retiring from tennis following the 2011 US Open, Huss moved on to coaching and has had a successful career ever since, highlighted by working with the women's doubles team of Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops Jones and serving as an assistant coach for the Virginia Tech men's tennis team. Since joining the USTA in January 2016, he has worked with up-and-coming players Caroline Dolehide and Kylie McKenzie.

For the next several weeks, Huss will be blogging for USTA.com about his life as a coach. Come back every Tuesday for updates.

I don’t remember that there was a time when I knew I was going to coach tennis. In fact, I do remember telling some people when they asked what I was going to do after my own playing career that something outside of tennis would be good. But, deep down, I did feel that I could help people become better tennis players or win bigger matches.

I considered myself a cerebral player, probably by necessity, as I did not possess obvious weapons in my own game. I wanted to find weaknesses in my opposition, which became more and more difficult to do as the level I competed at ascended. I stored away memories from practice against my peers. I watched matches more intently, sometimes only following the players – how, where and when they moved, rather than following the ball with my eyes. Eventually, I kept notes about my opponents – their tendencies, their strengths and weaknesses – and updated and referred back to them often.

Huss

At the highest level, a player’s tendencies or weaknesses are not nearly as obvious and probably do not even show up unless there is pressure or stress in the match. I quickly realized that people execute differently at 1-1 than they do in a tiebreak or at 5-6, 30-30 in the third set. I enjoyed the process of finding an edge outside of just trying to be a better hitter of the ball. I tried to find this edge through tactics, making opponents uncomfortable, giving them their favorite shot as little as possible, or mentally being tougher and better for longer.

So now, as a coach, I am thrilled to have been fortunate enough to work in a high-level men’s college program at Virginia Tech and now on the women’s side with transitional pros at the USTA. I enjoy the challenge of making talented and motivated players even better than they already are.

Just like we ask our players to adopt a growth mindset to improve, we as coaches must do so, as well. I am lucky to have a wealth of resources available to me through the USTA so I can continue my education and evolve as a coach. I enjoy having discussions with my fellow coaches and reflecting on the mistakes I have made along the way to rectify them and make sure I do not repeat them.

The process of improving a player’s tennis skills, character, mental skills or physical capabilities is extremely rewarding. Tennis is an amazing sport that has so many components, so many ways to improve if one is committed. I embrace the opportunity to teach and coach, and I thoroughly enjoy the process.

 

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