Interim women's tennis head coach Jefferson Hammond sits down with GoFrogs.com

Jefferson Hammond

Jefferson Hammond

Sept. 5, 2006


How excited are you to be named interim head coach?
I am excited beyond belief. It was a great surprise to me that they would have faith in me to lead this great team. I think it is a great reward for all the hard years of work I have put in. TCU is the only place I could visualize myself truly enjoying, and to be able to stay without going elsewhere eclipses my wildest dreams. To top it off, I get to still have my mentor down the hall and on the next court. It's Christmas in August for me!


A lot of people may not realize that you were offered a heading coaching position two years ago but chose to stay at TCU. This shows your commitment to TCU and the program. So, talk about that decision.
When I turned the job down, the athletic director at that particular institution called me back to ask again. The first thing that flowed out of my mouth was "I just feel something special is happening with this team and I feel a sense of loyalty and want to see great things come to fruition." TCU is a special place, and I realized it on the plane ride back from the interview.


The team has finished in the top-20 during the last two seasons since your arrival. Why do you think you and Borelli made such a good duo?
First of all, I walk in here the first week, and a seven-time National Champion is asking me for advice. I couldn't believe it. He put me in the fold on every decision and treated me like an associate head coach. We are two different personalities, opposites really, and we played off of each other because of this and had incredible chemistry.


Briefly talk about your team in the upcoming season. What are the challenges and what are you most optimistic about?
The biggest challenge in front of us is making sure we are healthy. This is always the biggest challenge on any team, but it is particularly important this year. I am most optimistic about each player getting a little bit better throughout the season. We are a more mature team now and have two great additions - Nina Munch-Soegaard and Macall Harkins. This is a great recruiting class - one of the very best two-player recruiting classes in the country to go to school this fall.


You have a great wife and two children. What kind of role does your family play in your professional career?
My family is everything to me. They bring the best out of me and they give me purpose as I pursue excellence here at TCU. They keep my life in perspective and bring me great joy. I am a lucky man.

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ABOUT HAMMOND:
Regarded as one of the top young coaches in the country, Jefferson Hammond was named interim head coach of the TCU women's tennis program in August 2006. Hammond served as the TCU women's tennis assistant coach the past two years. He takes over the position recently vacated by Dave Borelli, who is now the TCU men's head coach.

"I am very excited to continue working here at TCU and it is an honor to be named interim head coach," Hammond said. "TCU is a great place and the perfect fit for who I am as a person. I am so excited about being able to lead this group of players that I have gotten to know so well over the last two years years. We look forward to a fun and successful year."

As a coaching pair in 2005 and 2006, the Borelli-Hammond duo placed the TCU women's tennis program among the nation's elite collegiate programs. Not only did the Horned Frogs make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament, but TCU also finished both campaigns with top-20 rankings.

"I have been fortunate to have such a wonderful mentor in Dave Borelli," Hammond commented. "My relationship with Dave has done so much for my career and my life. He is obviously one of the top tennis minds in tennis, and it has been my luck in being able to spend two years as his assistant. He has made me a better coach in all areas. I am so excited that Dave has accepted the position as men's coach as I will continue to seek his advice and council. Also, I am excited for the TCU tennis players as I believe that the close relationship that I have with Dave will continue to help keep a great atmosphere between the men's and women's players."

Hammond, the 2006 Southwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year, and Borelli enjoyed one of the most successful TCU women's tennis program runs last season. The team finished the 2006 campaign ranked 15th in the final ITA poll which ties the highest finish since the 1979-80 season.

"I think Jeff is a tremendous choice to name as interim head coach," Borelli said. "I feel he has the potential to bring the program to the next level. He already turned down a head coaching position at a major NCAA Division I program so he is very well regarded. I am thrilled about his hire because he is one of the best young coaches in the country."

The Frogs' 2006 season was filled with many firsts and notable accomplishments. All indications from the outset proved the Frogs would have a strong year as the team began the 2006 season ranked 14th according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's preseason poll. Four Horned Frogs were ranked in the top 50 in singles, and one doubles duo placed in the top-50 as well. Having four Frogs ranked among the top 50 in singles was a school record.

The Frogs picked up their first big win of the season by knocking off seventh-ranked Vanderbilt 4-3 at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors. Beating the Commodores tied a TCU school record for highest ranked team defeated. Notably, the Borelli-Hammond pair also established the previous record (a 4-3 win over No. 7 Clemson) the season before.

After its run at the National Team Indoors, the Frogs leaped four spots in the polls to grab the No. 12 ranking - the highest in program history.

The 2006 campaign also marked TCU's inaugural season as a member of the Mountain West Conference and the Frogs quickly established dominance as the rookie member of the league. TCU went 8-0 versus MWC foes to win the regular-season title and grab the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. With the No. 1 spot, the Frogs rolled through the tournament to capture the crown.

For their efforts in league competition, several Frogs grabbed all-conference accolades. Senior Helena Besovic, junior Ana Cetnik, sophomore Nicole Leimbach and freshman Anna Sydorska garnered singles plaudits. Besovic, Cetnik, Sydorska and sophomore Andrea Morgado pulled in doubles recognition. Sydorska was recognized as the conference Freshman of the Year and Borelli was named Coach of the Year.

Following league play, the Frogs made history as they became the first TCU women's program to host the opening rounds of the NCAAs. The regional consisted of Arkansas, Conference USA champion Rice, 18th-ranked Texas and the Horned Frogs.

The first round saw TCU dispatch Rice 4-0 to make its second-straight round two showing. Having never advanced past the regionals, the Frogs had history on the line once again and the Longhorns stood in the way. TCU delivered and knocked off to the University of Texas, 4-0, to move on to its first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.

Despite falling to No. 1 and eventual three-time champion Stanford, the Horned Frogs continued to roll in the awards. Senior Gloriann Lopez was named the ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award recipient for the 2006 season. Lopez, the team captain, finished the regular season with a record of 16-3. The ITA/Arthur Ashe Award goes to a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.

Sydorska received her second Freshman of the Year honor as she was recognized in the Southwest Region by the ITA.

In the final individual polls, Leimbach ranked 19th which is the third-highest finish for a Horned Frog singles player in program history (Rene Simpson 12th in 1988, Story Tweedie-Yates 11th in 2005). The Colorado Springs, Colo., product also picked up ITA All-America honors for her efforts during the season. The sophomore was also the first TCU Grand Slam champion as she brought home the Riviera/ITA All-American Championship.

Besovic finished 29th in singles, 13th in doubles alongside Cetnik and 24th while paired with Sydorska. The 13th-place finish is the second highest in program history behind Simpson and Teresa Dobson, who completed the 1988 season with a No. 12 slotting.

In his first season at TCU, the Horned Frogs ended the year with a 21-5 record and their final ranking of 19th marked the first top 20 finish since 1981. At one point during the spring, TCU was rated as high as No. 14, then tying a school record that was established over 20 years ago. TCU finished second at the Conference USA Championship and narrowly missed out on making the school's first appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 when Tulane won 4-3 in the second round in New Orleans.

Hammond was very instrumental in helping TCU recruit some of the top talent in the nation and the world.

Hammond came to Fort Worth, Texas, after being involved in the collegiate coaching ranks in the state of California. During the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Hammond served as the volunteer assistant coach for the nationally ranked Southern California men's team. He helped guide the 2004 USC squad to a co-Pac-10 team championship and to the NCAA semifinals.

The Indianapolis native broke into the college scene in 2002 as an administrative assistant for the UC Irvine men's tennis team.

Hammond started his coaching career at University High in Irvine, Calif., in 2000 after serving as an assistant tennis pro at The Pointe Hilton on South Mountain in Phoenix. During his two-year stint with the boys' varsity tennis squad at University High, Hammond led his team to two California Interscholastic Federation team championships. Following the 2000 title, he was named the Orange County Register Coach of the Year.

Hammond has not only excelled as a coach but as a player. As recently as 2001, he was ranked No. 1 in the Southern California Tennis Association in the men's 30-and-under singles.

Hammond earned his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Vermont in 1993, where he was four-year starter on the tennis team with a .694 winning percentage in singles. As a senior, he was co-captain, and in 1992, he helped lead the Catamounts to the North Atlantic Conference championship. Following graduation, he spent time playing on the United States Tennis Association Pro Circuit.

Hammond and his wife, Amy, have two boys, Eric, 3, and Kevin, 1, who was born in June 2005. The couple resides in Keller.

 

 


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