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For the past seven years, Head Coach Zach Hasenyager has been the linchpin for The College of Wooster men’s tennis team. In his time coaching the Fighting Scots, Hasenyager has led his teams to a No. 25 slot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Region Rankings, coached NCAC Players of the Year, aided athletes in beating all-time records and mentored academically exceptional students.
After completing this season, Hasenyager will transition to Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa where he will continue his coaching and mentoring with the Pioneers.
Coaching at Wooster for almost a decade, Hasenyager attributes his focus to DIII and the liberal arts on his positive experiences he himself had at the University of Redlands as a standout in the classroom and on the court. “My time in college was really impactful on me so I always get excited at the opportunity to, in whatever ways, pay those experiences forward to our students and players,” he said. “I also really appreciate and relate to the liberal arts curriculum. As a student who wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but liked learning a lot, a liberal arts program just felt right.”
In order to have a successful team, camaraderie is necessary. In terms of building that synergy, Hasenyager states, “It starts by bringing in the right people. One thing I think we’ve done a good job of is empowering players to become leaders in various roles. One guy is an on-court leader, another academic, one is our spiritual leader and another leads in strength and conditioning. When everyone feels like they’re contributing, buy-in and camaraderie come easily.”
During the recruitment process, Hasenyager looks for students who are well-rounded and understand the importance of balancing their athletic and academic success. “Wooster is a high-academic school where class work is going to be a priority, so it always starts by finding players who want to be student-athletes, not just tennis players,” he said. “I’ve talked to kids who are solely focused on tennis, and even if they’re strong players you know Wooster won’t be the right environment for them.”
In terms of his coaching philosophy, Hasenyager emphasized the big picture, saying, “I tend to focus more on the strategic than the technical; finding repeatable patterns that bring success every point, game, set, match, day or year. Focusing on a strong strategy provides a blueprint for the player to follow so even in pressure-filled moments they can excel.” In addition, within his coaching approach, Hasenyager focuses on athletes’ skills while playing smart tennis. “Finding ways of using what they’re already good at and becoming smarter in analyzing our opponent’s game is a huge focus,” he said.
When asked about his favorite memory from his time at Wooster, many came to mind. In addition, Hasenyager recalls a 2016 thriller against Wabash University: “It was a home match, senior day, and it came down to the last match on, senior Davis Elkins at #4 singles,” he detailed. “They were ranked in the region at the time, but we had tons of fans out cheering us on and the atmosphere was incredible. I have this great picture of a guy hanging out of his dorm room window to cheer on Davis. Needless to say, he won, and we celebrated!”
As his time at the College draws to a close, Hasenyager admits a few things he will miss. “Honestly, the food in Lowry,” he admitted. “I think it’s tasty for sure, but my favorite part is it’s All-You-Can-Eat. I definitely get my money’s worth when I go in!” On a more serious note, he emphasized the relationships he’s created. “But really it’ll be the people. You come to Wooster for the community feel and the relationships, whether you’re a student, faculty or staff,” the coach said. “And I’ve definitely made some great relationships, particularly with [Head women’s tennis] Coach Amy Behrman who has been a fantastic source of wisdom and humor and help throughout my career here.”
As Hasenyager bids adieu to the underclassmen, he provides some insight for those graduating this May. “You don’t have to be in a rush to start your life,” he advised. “There is plenty of time to try things, make some mistakes, travel, learn about yourself, embrace that liberal arts education and get out into the world. You know a lot and will be prepared for many challenges but there’s always more to learn, so be open to new experiences. Make a point to stay in touch with your college friends. It’s easy to lose track of each other as people move away… but even if it’s been a while, reach out to them and reconnect. It’ll be as easy as ever to talk and hang out. These are friendships that should last forever.”
Before Hasenyager moves on from the Fighting Scots, the team aims to continue their winning streak on Saturday, April 17 as they battle the Kenyon College Lords on home turf.