July 8, 2006
Danielle Lund spoke with Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn about taking over as head coach of the Bulldog women's tennis team. Here is a Q&A with the new mentor and former professional player.
SC: You were with the 2005-06 Elis as an Assistant Coach, so there aren't many surprises for you in the program. What excited you most about the Yale tennis program?
DL: The thing that excites me the most is the opportunity to lead the team to a very high national level in college tennis. All one can ask for in life is a chance and it's what you do with the opportunity that matters. Yale is such a unique university because it offers its student-athletes an unparalleled combination of academics and athletics. We have a full team returning from last year because we didn't graduate anyone and we're adding two very talented freshmen. Also, with the new Cullman-Heyman facility in the works and a fully supportive administration and staff behind us, there is a lot to look forward to. It's truly a very exciting time to be a part of the Yale women's tennis program!
SC: Plans are in the works for the new Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. How will this impact your team?
DL: The new Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center is going to add so much to the tennis program. For starters, it will be a huge recruiting tool to be able to provide prospects with a state of the art facility to practice and compete in. In addition, the eight courts will allow the men's and women's teams to practice at the same time and finish earlier in the day. Also, with eight courts we can put all six singles matches out on the courts at the same time in a dual match, which will create an extremely exciting and energetic atmosphere. We'll be able to host all types of tennis tournaments (junior, collegiate, professional, etc.) with the new facility, which will be great exposure for Yale and the men's and women's programs.
SC: You played as a professional for two years and earned a ranking. How can that experience help you as a new head coach?
DL: My professional playing experience just reinforced the fact that there is no substitute for hard work. Everyone else out on the tour had the same amount of time in the day to practice, train and condition but it was what we did with that time that made the difference. I carry that knowledge with me to coaching because the theory applies to all levels. Preparation can make a difference but the game really is also very psychological. Time after time you see players who are beaten because they didn't BELIEVE they could win. As a new head coach, one of my primary goals is to help each player learn to have the confidence to be the best she can be. The combination of preparation and belief is crucial for success and it is something I hope to teach every player on the team.
SC: You earned a variety of awards and honors in the highly competitive Big 10 playing for Michigan. Is a Yale player's experience very different from yours, and does the comparison help in working with current collegians?
DL: With the strength of our schedule and the level of play in the Ivy League, our players at Yale are experiencing what it's like to play at the highest level of college tennis. I think my experiences playing at Michigan and having the opportunity individually to compete in the NCAAs, All-American and National Indoor tournaments helps me prepare our players to get to that level because I did it myself not too long ago. I'm really excited about our team qualifying for the NCAA team tournament because there is nothing like post-season play. I'm confident that Cristelle's (new assistant coach) and experiences playing for Northwestern will also help us reach our goal of making the NCAA tournament and continue to improve to a top national team.