Chris Young has coached the Oklahoma State Cowgirls since 2010.
© Party Pix Photography
Young celebrates with members of his Cowgirls' team.
© Gary Lawson
Young has some fun on court with one of his players.
© Bruce Waterfield
By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Norman, Okla., native Chris Young is in his fourth year as the head coach of the Oklahoma State women's tennis team. Young returned to his home state to coach the Cowgirls after serving as Wichita State's director of tennis for five years. Prior to his time in Wichita, he worked as the assistant men's and women's coach at his alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University (OC), where he also served as the interim head coach for both programs in 2002.
Young, who graduated from OC in 2000 and helped the Eagles to Top 5 national finishes in each of his three seasons there, will lead his Cowgirls against archrival Oklahoma in a USTA College MatchDay event on March 9. He recently answered questions for USTA.com in the latest College Spotlight.
USTA.com: You are a native of Oklahoma, played college tennis at Oklahoma Christian and are back coaching in your home state. What is that like for you?
Coach Young: Having grown up in the state of Oklahoma, it is an honor to now be coaching at Oklahoma State. It is exciting to be around so many people who have impacted my life and career, and to have them supporting our program is incredible. I hope that I can help grow the sport within the state and help young kids have even more opportunities than I had.
USTA.com: What did you learn from your college tennis experience? How has it shaped your coaching philosophy?
Coach Young: I learned so much from my experience as a collegiate tennis player. I learned the value of teamwork and the impact those bonds can have for the rest of your life. Some of my greatest friendships are with former teammates because of the amount of time we spent together working toward a common goal. My philosophy as a coach is to use the collegiate tennis model to help teach the life lessons I feel each player needs for success throughout their life.
USTA.com: How has college coaching changed in the last five years?
Coach Young: Within the last five years, college tennis has become more recognized as a pathway to the next level. With more universities building new facilities and providing additional resources for the college tennis player, there are more opportunities than ever before to chase that dream. This has led to greater parity in our sport and an exciting brand of tennis for fans to watch. We are seeing upsets that we would not have seen five years ago, and that is great for our sport.
USTA.com: What is your favorite part of coaching at the college level? The most challenging part?
Coach Young: My favorite part of coaching at the collegiate level is the day-to-day interaction with the players. You take on a greater role than just being on the court with them, and you have a chance to help them shape their lives during some of the most critical moments. While it is the most rewarding part, it is also the most challenging. I hope that I can help my players dream bigger and believe more in themselves than when they arrived.
USTA.com: What are your thoughts on the USTA’s new College MatchDay series? I see your team will take on Oklahoma in early March at one of the events.
Coach Young: I could not be more excited about College MatchDay and what I feel it will do for collegiate tennis. We need this platform to showcase how exciting our brand is and the energy our players bring to the courts. Our matches with Oklahoma are always intense and often come down to the final match, so we are excited about the opportunity to showcase tennis in the state of Oklahoma to the rest of the world through this platform.
USTA.com: Do you get more nervous now coaching, or was it worse when you were playing?
Coach Young: I definitely get more nervous as a coach. I understand more now about what is involved, and I want it for my team so much because I know the hard work they put in and I love seeing them be successful. It’s hard when you don’t have much control, not being on the court yourself, so that leads to many anxious moments.
USTA.com: What do you see as the biggest challenges players face when they arrive on campus?
Coach Young: I believe the biggest challenge for players is time management and making sure they have their priorities in the right order. There are so many things on a college campus that require your time, and to manage a busy schedule and train at a high level takes a great amount of dedication and skill to properly manage your schedule on a daily basis.
USTA.com: Any advice for current players who want to go into college coaching?
Coach Young: I would encourage every player to look into college coaching. As I said earlier, it gives you a greater appreciation of what you were given as a player and an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of young people.