Get to know: Head of Men's Tennis
Sally Milano | March 29, 2017
Brian Boland, one of the most successful coaches in college tennis today, will join USTA Player Development as Head of Men's Tennis after the completion of the academic school year, replacing Jay Berger, who had been in the position for the last nine years. Boland joins the USTA after more than two decades in college coaching, beginning with five seasons at his alma mater, Indiana State University, followed by 16 years as head coach of the men's tennis team at the University of Virginia.
During his tenure at Virginia, Boland took the program from being ranked outside the ITA’s Top 75 to a No. 1 ranking, leading the Cavaliers to NCAA Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016, and earning ITA National Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and 2016. Boland reflects on his time at UVA and discusses his new position as Head of Men's Tennis in this Q&A with USTA.com.
USTA.com: What was the first thing that ran through your mind when you were approached about the Head of Men’s Tennis position?
Brian Boland: I was extremely humbled and honored to receive the call from USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. The role of Head of Men’s Tennis, in my view, is the greatest honor and responsibility for any coach personally invested in the process of developing world-class American tennis players and people. Jose Higueras, Jay Berger and the men’s national coaches have continued to raise the bar and set the example for how a federation can truly add value by servicing, resourcing and working together with its nation’s most committed coaches and players. I consider the opportunity to lead the charge on the men’s side and expand on the great work that Jay and his team have accomplished to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
USTA.com: What interested you most about the role?
Boland: By far, the most interesting aspect of this role will be working together and learning from every team member at Player Development and a nationwide pipeline of coaches and players that make up the future of American tennis. These relationships will be my No. 1 priority as Head of Men’s Tennis, and I am looking forward to not only improving myself but the lives of many through my work with PD and the private sector.
USTA.com: Have you worked or been in communication with USTA Player Development much already as head coach at Virginia, considering the USTA’s increased focus on college tennis?
Boland: Both Jay Berger and Director of Collegiate Tennis Stephen Amritraj have been incredible allies and resources for the development of our players at the University of Virginia. Thanks to their efforts, there has always been an open-door policy at Player Development for any of our players to train at the USTA National Training Centers, as well as a consistent level of support on the road when our players have competed in professional events. The job Stephen has specifically done for collegiate tennis has been outstanding, and I look forward to working together with him, his team and the ITA to continue to enhance the collegiate tennis experience for our student-athletes.
USTA.com: I know you will be finishing the rest of the season at Virginia before moving to Orlando. What are your goals for your last few months there?
Boland: My main goal is to really enjoy these last two months with a team of student-athletes that I love and to express my gratitude to all of our longtime supporters at UVA and within the Charlottesville community, whom I consider to be the foundation of why our men’s tennis program has been so successful. My family and I built this program together with a special group of administrators, coaches, players, alumni and fans that have made UVA men’s tennis an integral part of their everyday lives. I am looking forward to thanking each and every one of them individually.
USTA.com: What would you say are the things you are most proud of from your time at UVA?
Boland: I would have to say that my greatest accomplishment is the network of life-long relationships that I have built with my current players, former players, their families and every person that has played a role in making UVA men’s tennis what it is today. The NCAA and ACC titles are certainly accomplishments that I will be proud of for the rest of my life, but they do not compare to the joy, support and friendship that my family and I have been blessed with, thanks to the people that have surrounded our program for the past 16 years at the University of Virginia.
USTA.com: When will you be making the move to Orlando?
Boland: My family and I will be moving to the Orlando area at the completion of the academic school year. We are looking forward to being closer to family, since my parents, brother and several other family members currently reside in Tampa. Although I plan on dedicating a tremendous amount of time working and traveling in my new role, it will be a nice change to have my immediate family members close to home for my wife, four kids and me to enjoy.
USTA.com: Have you visited the new National Campus? What are your thoughts on the facility and what it has to offer our players?
Boland: During the several times that I have visited the USTA National Campus, I have come away with a tremendous sense of pride for the past, present and future of American tennis. This facility presents us with the unique opportunity to service, resource and build relationships with participants at every level of the pathway, both coaches and players. In addition, there is a growing team environment that is nurtured by players of all ages and levels working hard together, side by side, all focused on lifting Team USA back to the top of our sport.
USTA.com: In your new position as Head of Men’s Tennis, you will still be involved with college tennis but will also work with junior and pro players. What are your thoughts on working with players at the different levels, from teens to well-established professionals?
Boland: Although the vast majority of my coaching and mentoring experience has been in the collegiate realm, I am confident that my understanding of the game, ability to relate to players and passion for maximizing potential will serve me well across all the ages and levels that I will be directly involved with as Head of Men’s Tennis. I look forward to leaning on the wealth of knowledge that exists within our national coaching staff, as well as the private sector, so I am able to add the utmost value in every facet of my role and make a positive impact on the development of every player and coach that I am responsible for. Our men’s national coaches, together with private coaches nationwide, have done an exceptional job of developing our nation’s talent, and I plan on only adding to this progress with an open mind, a willingness to learn and a commitment to lead.
USTA.com: What are some of the things you would like to accomplish as Head of Men’s Tennis?
Boland: My primary goal is to continue to build a culture within Team USA that exemplifies the character, commitment, communication and camaraderie we will need, not only to win Grand Slams, Davis Cups and Olympic medals but, more importantly, to make sure our culture sets our players up for success in their lives after tennis. Under my leadership, the development of the person will be just as important as the development of the tennis player, because the two clearly go hand in hand. In addition, I would like for every stakeholder within Team USA to consider our USTA National Campus at the very least a second home, where they can come to collaborate with our men’s national coaches and work together to maximize the potential of our players.
USTA.com: Talk about the state of men’s tennis now in the U.S. Do you think it will be long before we have another Grand Slam winner or players at the very top of the game?
Boland: I’m not a big believer in timelines, result goals or focusing on other aspects of the process that we cannot control, but I do believe American men’s tennis is clearly headed in the right direction. We have a crop of veteran pros that continue to make strides inside the Top 100, 50 and 20 in the world, and we also have a lot to be excited about the next generation of American players that are gradually making a name for themselves on the ATP Tour. Best of all, the camaraderie and friendship amongst this current group of male professionals seems to be a positive one, which is a great sign for the future of our U.S. Davis Cup team, led by Captain Jim Courier, whom I am very much looking forward to working with and doing whatever I can to support his team.
USTA.com: What excites you most about your new position as Head of Men’s Tennis?
Boland: The three most exciting aspects of my new position as Head of Men’s Tennis for USTA Player Development will undoubtedly be: 1) learning and growing together with our men’s national coaches; 2) building close, trusting and transparent relationships with our Team USA players; and 3) tapping into the wealth of knowledge, experience and talent that exists in the private sector when it comes to overall player development. I plan on fulfilling my duties and responsibilities in my new role with great pride for American tennis and an appreciation for all the great work that has been done up to this point by our Team USA coaches and players.
(Photo courtesy of Intercollegiate Tennis Association)