By: Jamie Tritschler, Athletic Communications Intern
In this edition of Coach's Corner we caught up with Nolan Bacchieri, who recently made his head coaching debut for Penn State Brandywine tennis. Coach Bacchieri looks forward to next year for his first full season as head coach.
JT: How long have you been coaching tennis?
NB: I have been coaching tennis for about six years and playing for about 20 now.
Before Penn State Brandywine, I was the assistant coach at Arcadia University and I've been coaching at different clubs for the past six years, one of them being DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware. Right now, I'm actually helping out at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, which is a high level youth tennis club in Philadelphia.
JT: You've been playing for about 20 years. Tell me about your history with tennis.
NB: I picked it up as a kid. I played in high school and that's when I really started playing competitively. For college I went to Franklin and Marshall and played all four seasons there, both singles and doubles.
My family played; my sister got entered into some clinics and I think I was too young to start playing at that point. I just kind of grabbed a racket and wanted to play so my mom came out and started hitting the ball back and forth with me. And then the next summer I was old enough to join a clinic so that's kind of how I picked it up.
JT: How did you come to be the coach at Penn State Brandywine?
NB: Basically, I was at Arcadia as the assistant coach and I really wanted to be a head coach at a college. I saw that this position was open, applied, and went through the process pretty quickly to get on board here and join the spring. I'm really excited to get things really moving next year.
JT: What caught your attention at Penn State Brandywine?
NB: With there being a head coaching position, I really wanted to take that next step and be a head coach. When I met with the Athletic Director, Sarah [Kurpel], she seemed really excited about the tennis program and all of the athletic teams moving in the right direction. That was really an attractive piece of it, having someone new, a fresh athletic director who is looking to push things forward and get things going in the right direction. I thought that was great.
JT: Who were your mentors as you came up as a player first and then as a coach?
NB: One of my first mentors is probably my coach at DuPont Country Club, Rob Wirth. He ran an academy there and he really brought my game to the next level when I was in high school. He made me a strong and competitive high school player. He was very serious; he made us really work hard and that was obviously good for kids at the high school level to have an influence like that. He would be probably one of my first mentors from a tennis aspect. Then my college coach as well, Sean Kelleher, at Franklin & Marshall. Going into college I was a good player, had my strokes, and knew what I was doing, but he worked more on the mental side of the game with me. It was really good to have the stroke production in high school and then a coach in college that was really good with the mental side of the game.
From a coaching standpoint, I kind of just pick up from the things that I see other people do and I put my own spin on it. I would say that those two [Wirth & Kelleher] have a huge impact on myself as a coach because that's who I learned from. It kind of goes hand in hand.
JT: What are your first steps as a new coach coming into the program?
NB: First steps...commitment is really big for me. Making sure we have a set practice time, everyone knows it and everyone is committed to come to practice. The other thing is that a lot of these kids are playing tennis to have fun so we're going it keep it fun and make sure everyone is having a good time. I think that they want to win just as much as I do, so winning is going to be important and to do that, we have to get better as well. So practice, as much as it can be fun, we also have to be serious and commit ourselves to getting better. Those are the first steps and then probably the biggest thing is actually recruiting. I want to get in good talent and really fill out the roster, so that's going to be a process to recruit for each season. That's probably going to be the biggest thing that I'll be working on.
JT: Do you have a coaching philosophy?
NB: I definitely have a philosophy that I've actually been working on; I'm doing a writing on my coaching philosophy right now. Basically, it's playing to win rather than playing not to lose. Not being afraid of losing and playing with that in your mind, but playing with the mentality that you're out there to win, that you can win, and you can beat the person across the net from you. I just kind of have been writing this for myself to get it down on paper. It's not complete yet; it's a work in progress.
JT: Is there anything that makes you nervous in your first year as a head coach?
NB: I don't know about anything that makes me nervous. I would just say that I'm excited to see what can happen with the team. I think the first year is going to be tough to change the culture a little bit and get more commitment to the team and make practice a little bit more mandatory. That's going to be a change for some of these players, but I'm confident that we'll get there. It could take some time, but there's nothing that makes me too nervous about coaching the team.
JT: How do you look to improve on last year's 1-9 record in your first season as head coach?
NB: I think that the main thing that I want to do in the first season as head coach is really get some strong commitment to the team and make sure that practice is not an optional thing, but something that everybody is going to be going to. You know, obviously unless you have class that conflicts with it, but practice is going to be really important for the team to get better. Then this year is kind of a building year I would say and then the following year would be the year when I'll actually be able to get some of the recruits in that I've been speaking to already. I definitely want to fill out the schedule and get a lot of match play in and make sure that the commitment on the team is strong this year.
JT: What is your outlook for the team next year? Are there any goals you're already looking to hit?
NB: Definitely just getting enough players is going to be important because, as I was looking back on some of the matches, we had to forfeit a few because we just didn't have enough players. That's going to be really important and it'll help us to potentially put a few more wins on our record because obviously if you're forfeiting matches you're going to have a tough time winning. That coincides with the commitment aspect I've been mentioning. It all kind of comes together.
JT: What advice do you have for any players who are expressing interest in coming to Penn State Brandywine for tennis?
NB: I'd say come play! That's my biggest advice. If you played in high school, you probably have a good chance of making the team. We don't have a full team right now so I definitely want to get the numbers up to 10 or 12. I'd love to speak with any players that are interested in coming to play at Penn State Brandywine and show them around campus and talk with them about the team. I think that we definitely are heading in the right direction here, so if a player wants to make a big impact on a team then Penn State Brandywine is a great option.