Coach’s Corner: Q & A with UMW men’s tennis coach Todd Helbling
BY EMILY DALY
The University of Mary Washington men’s tennis coach, Todd Helbling was hired by UMW in 1999, and since then has led UMW men’s tennis team to the NCAA Tournament 13 times, and the National Championship Elite Eight four times.
Helbling graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi in 1989, where he was team captain and received MVP honors. He was a nationally ranked player his junior and senior year. Helbling later attended the University of Massachusetts where he received his Master’s in sport management in 1990.
Before working at UMW, he worked as the assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach and head men’s soccer coach at Washington College. Later, he worked at Slippery Rock University, where he led the women’s tennis team to a record score of 13-6.
Q: How do you feel about the season so far?
A: Our season has been a bit up and down. We started off great with big wins over Division I George Mason and Longwood and then nationally ranked Stevens Tech and NC Wesleyan. But we have struggled a bit against the next seven nationally ranked teams we have played. We’ve been right there with all of them, but come up short in all but one of those. We are very young and are learning how to rise during the big moments.
Q: To what do you attribute the success of the men’s tennis team?
A: Our guys are dedicated and work hard. They are very competitive. I think they develop and learn every day, so they continue to get better.
Q: What has influenced your coaching style?
A: Just trying to provide our guys a positive experience. I try to look at it from a player’s perspective and what they want in order to be successful and have a good experience.
Q: What factors led to your coaching at UMW?
A: I wanted to be in a DIII environment. I believe in the mission of DIII and the balance of being a true student-athlete. These kids all love to compete and they are good, balanced kids.
Q: How do you plan to fill the gaps that will be left by the seniors leaving after this semester?
A: We hope to have three pretty good guys coming in next year and we only lose David Lunding Johansson. That’s a big loss, but with how young we are, we are going to be a lot better overall next year just by being more experienced.
Q: Anything you else would like to say regarding the team or UMW?
A: It is a privilege to get to coach these guys. I am pretty hard on them sometimes because I want them to push themselves and have no regrets. But they are fun and really battle every time we step on the court. That makes for some fun times.