Women’s Tennis: Coach plays fatherly role

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    This is a story.About a man named Borelli, who was busy with 13 girls he called his own. They were tennis players, working all together, and they were anything but all alone.

    Yes, that’s the way this team became the Borelli bunch.

    And, as it would seem, everyone is more than willing to admit that TCU women’s tennis head coach is exactly the gifted father figure he’s made up to be – except for Dave Borelli himself.

    “The one thing I think I’ve always been lucky at is I’ve always had a good group of kids,” Borelli said. “I’ve always been able to find good kids that are really quality people, and I’ve been lucky for the most part. I’ve only had a couple of times where it didn’t work out that way. But over the years, in my tennis, I’ve always been pretty lucky, and when you get a good group of kids, it perpetuates that.”

    But Borelli, who is in his fourth season at TCU, has complied a r‚sum‚ that insinuates his accomplishments are a result of anything but chance: seven national championships as a coach, 58 All-American recipients and an NCAA National Collegiate Coach of the Year award. According to him, however, success should not always be measured by recognized achievements.

    “There are more important things than winning or losing a tennis match,” Borelli said. “I think it’s been one of our greatest accomplishments this year, having a group of kids that really care about school and really address that issue. I always use the same expression: ‘Getting kids to understand the value of working hard at something just for the sake of working hard, being good at something just for the sake of being good.'”

    No matter the definition of success, junior tennis player Gabby Lopez said Borelli embodies it.

    “I think he’s succeeded immensely, considering he had always coached men before now,” Lopez said. “I think he’s adapted very well … A great person doesn’t necessarily make a great coach, but it helps so much. He just knows so much about tennis. What makes him a great coach is he really cares about all his players.”

    Part of the affection his players feel, Borelli said, is inherent in his love for teaching.

    Borelli said he is strongest when working in a teaching capacity.

    “When I’m sitting there talking and working on the court in a lesson format,” Borelli said. “I think that’s when I’m at my happiest, when I feel the best about tennis, and that’s what I like.”

    Of course, to be an excellent teacher, you have to have the necessary experience – something assistant coach Jefferson Hammond said Borelli’s coaching time at USC, his alma mater, may give him the most possible.

    “He definitely has come in with a ton of experience from the women’s program at USC and an amazing amount of success that really very few coaches have … especially in the current group of coaches,” Hammond said. “I say he has more experience than anybody in the United States in college coaching.”

    But experience does not have to be limited to just tennis. Borelli said his 30-plus years of coaching have taught him more than just X’s and O’s.

    “I just like teaching,” Borelli said. “I like teaching the games, I guess. And being around a group of kids, learning things as I’ve gotten older. I’ve come to appreciate more the value of the things that transcend tennis, just life experiences.”

    And don’t forget family – because what would the Borelli bunch be without a father?

    “He’s always said we’re like his family to him, and it feels like that,” Lopez said. “We’re all just very close, and it’s a result of just … well, him.

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