From Tennis On Campus captain to NCAA Division I coach: Maxwell Koller's tennis journey
Maxwell Koller captained the University of Florida Tennis On Campus program for three years during his undergraduate career and was an integral part of four teams that made deep runs at the TOC National Championship. After successfully running one of the largest club programs in the nation, he's now a proud member of the Oklahoma University men's varsity staff—his third Divison I coaching job since his 2017 graduation.
A competitive junior player and a high school standout before his time in Gainesville, Koller was able to use his TOC experience to help launch his professional career.
"It was probably the most valuable experience I got, including my degree," he reflected. "I just thought it was so cool, whether it be fundraising, recruiting, planning trips, dealing with people or dealing with your committee that you put together.
"At the time, I was trying to run it as close to what I thought was a professional organization, obviously from the mind of a 19-year-old kid. But nonetheless, that's what we were striving for. It was great and I loved every second of it."
Following two assistant coaching jobs, Koller started as Oklahoma's volunteer assistant men's tennis coach in June 2021.
Soon after graduating from Florida with a history degree, Koller interviewed for the men's and women's assistant coach position at Divison I Bethune-Cookman University, an HBCU in his native Daytona Beach, Florida. He was offered the job before he left the interview room.
"It was kind of funny because I became a Division I coach at 22 without having any formal playing background," he said. "But I really used my experience with Tennis on Campus to pitch all my skills and attributes. And obviously I could play a little bit.
"I didn't know Tennis on Campus was going to lead me to a Division I job; that wasn't the plan. But at the end of the day, I took it and ran with it. And ever since then, I've just been 24 hours a day, seven days a week trying to make it at a high level in this industry."
In his one-and-a-half years at Bethune-Cookman, Koller helped guide the Wildcats men's team to its first HBCU national championship in program history. He then moved to mid-major Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, for two seasons from 2019-21 before moving to the Big 12 with Oklahoma.
"I'm young, so it's just been pedal to the metal: networking, working hard, grinding, doing everything I can to keep working my way up in this field," he said.
Koller is one of many TOC alumni who have found success in the tennis industry beyond their playing careers. Current Southern Methodist University head coach Grant Chen was a member of UCLA's club tennis program in the early 2000s, and rose up the ranks from a Bruins' student assistant all the way to men's associate head coach. Chen's Mustangs are now knocking on the door of the Tennis Channel/USTA College Tennis Top 25.
Outside of the coaching ranks, former University of Michigan club president Alex Gruskin—who led the Wolverines to the TOC national title in 2017—has gone on to found tennis media company Cracked Racquets and is part of the weekly voting panel for the Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25.
In the officiating ranks, Greg Allensworth currently works USTA, ATP and WTA events all over the world after getting his start years ago as a head official at the TOC National Championship.
Learn more about Tennis On Campus at the USTA's TOC website, and read about UCLA's title run at the 2022 TOC National Championship on USTA.com.