For the Love of the Game
If you're parked near this coach, you'll quickly know what sport he supports: UIW 10 S! Head tennis coach John Newman is a moving advertisement for his program and that's not all. He's a father, a grandfather, a student advocate, a mentor and the number one tennis player in Texas -- again.
The first scholarship player at Trinity University as a student in 1956, Newman charged ahead making a name for himself in the first year of the school's tennis program. After graduating and serving with an Army Ranger Battalion in Special Forces on tour in Vietnam, he returned to Trinity to coach, bringing the team to numerous championships. That brought lots of offers to become head coach at some big schools.
But Newman liked his home ground. He played tennis in park leagues locally and also coached at San Antonio Country Club -- he just couldn't tire of the courts. As he traveled to and from the Club and Trinity, he eyed UIW with ideas of developing its program. After all, building a winning team is more exciting than maintaining one.
So 16 years ago, in 1991, Newman joined forces with UIW to build a championship program by recruiting players with scholarships and training the teams for the four national championships they would eventually win. He raised the sport to Division II status almost seven years ago and boasts varsity teams with exceptional talent comprised of students who came here hungry to play the game.
Newman promotes his sport on and off the courts.
“This school is the best place to be,” says Newman. “I've lived, played and coached in this community my whole life, and UIW is where I want to stay.” He says this year's teams are headed for their best season ever, then smiles and adds, “It's a star lineup and we're excited to get out there and play.”
And, play he does. Newman himself plays about six tournaments a year. He made the finals in his first national tournament in New York last summer but had to forfeit to get back for his tennis camps. Every summer, Newman runs a series of one-week camps for kids ages 6 to 16, and wouldn't miss them, not even for his big game. He also organizes the university's intramural program for anyone who wants to play, which began after spring break. All in a day's game.
'07 Tennis Teams Hit the Courts
The Heartland Conference will likely see some stellar talent this year on the tennis courts. On Feb. 9, the Cardinals took flight in their Kerrville, TX, season opener, primed with some key players at the top of their games.
The varsity men's team is expected to shine throughout this season. Last season showcased some star players who've returned for another year on the courts. In 2006, the team had their fourth trip in five years to the Central Regional Tournament after being runners-up in the Conference Championships.
Returning players such as junior Henry Estrella, an international business major from the Dominican Republic, became the first Cardinal ever to win a regional singles title in a tournament sponsored by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association last year. Four athletes also were named to the All-Heartland Conference list: Chase Holliday, David Knaszak, Miguel Martin and Mike Hastings. This season, Michael Castillio joins Estrella as an expected standout, along with Holliday and Knaszak.
The women's team will send some power serves too. They warmed up last year, taking the Heartland Conference Championship with players such as Nadzeda Rosskhina, Samantha Mangum, Andrea Prieto, Sara Carswell and Megan Crain -- all major forces on last year's courts, receiving All-Conference awards. This year, they're prepared to overshoot last season's record.
As seven-year members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, UIW's tennis teams have earned recognition as match contenders. In only its second year in Division II, the women's team won the first-ever Heartland Conference title and received an NCAA regional bid. In the following year, both teams won in the Heartland Conference and played in Division II regional tournaments. That same year, the men advanced to their first NCAA national championship.
Success has continued every year since then with the men’s team, returning to the Central Regional tournament in 2005 and earning spots for both the men's and women's teams in the regional contest in 2006. Given this history of wins and if the stars line up, this year could be a “game, set, point, match” in favor of the Cardinals for much of the way!
2007 Spring Tennis Schedule*
April 2 Gustavas Adolphus at UIW (women's team) 10:00 a.m.
April 6 Trinity University at UIW 9:30 a.m.
April 13 Mid-Western at Wichita Falls, KS 2:00 p.m.
April 14 Cameron University at Lawton, OK 10:00 a.m.
April 15 East Central at Lawton, OK 10:00 a.m.
April20-21 Heartland Conference Championship at Dallas all day
May 4-5 NCAA Championships in Altamonte Springs, Florida all day
*Remainder of schedule;
includes men’s and women’s teams unless indicated.