Steve DeVries: Coming Full Circle
NorCal Staff | May 1, 2017
Steve DeVries grew up traveling around the country with his family. Born in Cincinnati, the family moved to Chicago when he was three and Fullerton at 8. It was in Maryland, when he turned 10 where he picked up his first racket. Steve and his brother split their time between football, basketball and tennis.
“We moved to Northern California, Green Valley actually, when I was 13,” Steve said. “We got there after the baseball league started. So, my brother and I decided to play tennis. We played two or three times a day!” What Steve found and enjoyed was simple. “With tennis, I could control the pace. I was more in control. It really challenged me physically and mentally.”
While living in Green Valley, he met Phil Cello, a NorCal Hall of Fame inductee. Phil was the teaching pro at the Green Valley Tennis Club. ADVERTISEMENT “Phil became one of my coaches,” Steve said. Steve played four years on the Armijo High School (Fairfield, California) tennis team. By his 15th year, he dropped his other sports to focus on tennis. He earned the No. 1 position in Boys 16s and Boys 18s in Northern California. He played several tournaments including Kalamazoo, USTA Clay Court Championships, USTA National Indoor Championships, and USTA Intersectional Team Championships, to name a few. He earned the #17 rank in the country in the Boys 18s in his second year and won the Allen B. Stowe National Sportsmanship Award.
Steve went to UC Berkeley after graduating from Armijo High. After merely a month at the school, he signed up for the pre-qualifying rounds for the pro tournament at Transamerica. He surprised himself by winning six pre-qualifying rounds and three qualifying matches. He made it to the first round of the main draw. “I had the chance to play Ivan Lendl,” Steve said. “It was the first time I realized I might have a chance at going pro. Plus it was a great way to meet new people in my dorm.”
Steve’s college career at Cal included becoming a three time All-American and playing all four years as No. 1. During his junior year, he won the International Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Championship tournament and ranked No. 1 in the country for several weeks. During his senior year, he reached the finals for the ITA All-American and the ITA Division I National
Men’s Team Indoor Championship. By the end of that season, he ranked No. 4 in the country. He also won the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship awards.
After graduating with a B.S. degree in 1987, Steve joined the pro circuit. By 1991 he reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in doubles. He was also a runner-up in Rotterdam. In 1992, he won at Indian Wells, Atlanta, Charlotte and Brisbane with his partner, Davis Macpherson. The pair qualified for the World Doubles Finals in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1993, he was runner up at Stuttgart and New Haven.
After suffering an injury, Steve turned to coaching in 1995. “I started working with Colleen Gray and she took No. 1 in NorCal for Girls 14,” Steve said. His coaching career took off as he began working with several junior players in NorCal. He met USTA Director of Coaching, Tom Gullickson, and shortly after, began working on projects for the organization. One project, in 1998, started out working with Stan Smith at a weeklong summer camp for the top college players in Texas. He met and started coaching James and Thomas Blake. “I ended up working the summer with them,” he said. It wasn’t long before USTA offered him a position as a Boy Sports Team national coach.
In 1999, Steve joined the USTA full time and in 2001 began coaching Robby Ginepri. Robby earned No. 20 while working with Steve. By 2004, Steve left USTA to work full time coaching Robby. In 2005, he started working with Tim Smyczek who was No. 68 in 2015, and Rajeev Ram, who won the Silver Medal with Venus Williams at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and was
No. 56 in 2016.
Being a Hall of Fame inductee is not new to Steve. In 2010, he was welcomed into the inaugural California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sac Joaquin Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was honored by the Cal Berkeley Hall of Fame. Steve has now gone full circle and serves as the Tennis Director at the Green Valley Country Club. “I really enjoyed coaching the players—from those that are just starting out their journey in tennis to those that are well on their way.” Steve continues to give back to the broader tennis community as a faculty USTA coach working at regional training camps and supporting the NorCal USTA endeavors.