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Coaches Corner: Interview with Coach Jim Madrigal

Interview with Coach Jim Madrigal

Jim Madrigal is the coach for Tennys Sandgren, former coach for Brian Baker, the Belmont Bruins Men’s tennis team and hundreds of junior and adult competitors. Coach Madrigal was interviewed for Coaches Corner by Coach Helen Neuhoff.

Neuhoff: You’ve had quite a busy year, Jim. Congratulations on a terrific run at the Australian Open, reaching the quarters with Tennys Sandgren. How did you meet Tennys Sandgren and how long have you been working together and what are your plans for 2018?

Madrigal: We met probably 15 years ago or so. I had spent some time working with his older brother Davey when he was in high school. I had been a fan and keeping up with his accomplishments for several years prior to our decision to give it a try. 

Neuhoff: What’s the key to being an effective coach and how did you learn it?

Madrigal: Effective...Ha! That's a great question and a tricky one. For me, the key to being a great coach has less to do with the information or expertise that a coach may have and much more about drawing the best out of a player. Everyone responds differently to information. My goal is to find what method is best suited to whom I'm working with. Sometimes it's tough. Sometimes playful. Other times analytical. The hardest for me is by "massaging" an ego. All methods can be effective depending on the student. I've learned this philosophy to trial and error (many errors) over the past 25+ years That's what I've learned over the years. 

Neuhoff: Who were some coaches that influenced your career and coaching style?

Madrigal: I would say that I was most influenced by the coaching that I received by members of the Queen City Racquet Club staff during my teenage years growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio. There were many good coaches. Collectively, I can see that I have qualities that exhibit their influences as well as my dads influence. He coached me until I was around 15 or 16. 

Neuhoff: At one of our goals is to grow tennis in our city, to the likes of our Chattanooga, Memphis and Knoxville neighbors. How do you think we can we accomplish growing and promoting this great sport in Nashville? 

Madrigal: Promoting tennis has everything to do with young people becoming excited about the sport. When tennis was as it's height, professional tennis had many polarizing characters. Connors, Nastase, McEnroe, Borg, and more. I believe that Nashville does a very good job promoting tennis already. The USTA JTT program appears to be a huge success. That program didn't exist when I was a kid. UTR tournament have emerged and created a platform for competing more locally in a setting of competition of players with similar skill sets. The local clubs appear to me to have thriving programs with high participation of juniors. I've never seen more leagues than are currently offered for adults. It's harder for pros to give lessons/clinics now to ladies during the day due to the number of available league options operating. All in all, I think Nashville is in a great place. 

Personally, I'll be opening a club that will host 12 outdoor and six indoor at the former Dolphin Club. Construction begins in early March. We plan to host everything listed above as well as promoting and executing a high level performance option for serious junior tennis players. I’m extremely excited about the addition that we are about to make to the Nashville tennis community as well the current overall growth in tennis that I'm seeing.
Note from Coaches Corner: At a recent coaches meeting, we discussed one of the many positives for playing tennis, top on the list being SPORT OF A LIFETIME, second on the list...

Neuhoff: When is the last time one of your players suffered a concussion on the courts?!

Madrigal: Concussion? Kind of a funny question given that it's tennis, but I've actually had two on my court. Not documented officially but probably, if I had to guess. The first was a kid that I was teaching nearly 30 years ago. He, [a] teenage boy, was running for a ball on court E (a cinder block wall court) at Maryland Farms. He knew what was coming as he ran for the ball. In a split decision he had to decide: a) stop and let the ball go. Benefit? Not crashing into wall. Downside? Loss of point. b) Continue to the ball. Benefit? Ball is put back into play thus having a chance to win. Downside? Probable concussion. His choice? B.

Unfortunately, he didn't win the point either. My other experience was similar. The kid had a "never say die" attitude and smashed into a water cooler. Both were ok. 

Coaches Corner would like to thank Coach Jim Madrigal for responding to our questions and we'd like to wish him tremendous success in the upcoming year!

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