Growing up in Lynnbrook, NY, head men’s and women’s tennis coach Chris Frusci played three sports in high school—football, basketball, and baseball—and played football at Muhlenberg College (PA).
So how did he end up as a tennis coach? “The opportunity presented itself, and I took it,” he explained.
A talented athlete, Frusci did not have a single day off from sports in high school and excelled so much as quarterback that he earned a college scholarship. But when he was injured after just a year at Muhlenberg, he had to hang up his cleats and regroup. Remaining at Muhlenberg, he completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in marketing, and graduated in 2008. At that point, he was offered a job at a media company in New York City, but the idea of a long commute and working in an office did not appeal to him. His love of sports was as strong as ever, so when he was offered a position as facilities supervisor and equipment manager for the Athletics Department at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), he knew that was a better fit.
Upon his arrival at NYIT, the tennis program was new. He and the tennis coach got to know each other, and before long, she asked him to join the program as a part-time assistant coach. He jumped at the chance and just a year later became head coach at NYIT. He saw remarkable success, proving the team to be a contender within the competitive world of Division II tennis its first four seasons. He was named 2014 Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Men’s and Women’s East Region Coach of the Year and 2014 East Coast Conference Co-Coach of the Year.
Now at Saint Leo, Frusci notes big contrasts between New York and Florida. “In New York, there might be two or three matches a year to get excited about, but here I’d say 15 out of 25 matches we play are critical—something is always on the line. A bad match in February can affect us in April,” he commented. “We have to be in the best shape possible. To be ready for three-hour matches in the heat, we have to commit to regular off-court workouts and practice on-court agility. The great thing about Florida is that we can train all year outside—but everyone else in our conference can, too.”
Coach Frusci looks at his teams and tries to remember that for all the student-athletes, playing tennis should be a positive four-year experience of traveling, training, and teamwork. In this mind, having a winning team means
- having the right players in place—recruiting is hugely important;
- getting players used to the training structure;
- developing players and helping them reach their peak;
- creating and maintaining a supportive team environment; and
- having fun! It’s a long season.
For the upcoming year, he expects great things from the Lions. The men’s team ended the 2014-2015 season as No. 7 in the country, and the women’s team finished in the No. 6 spot. He would like to see both teams make it to nationals for 2015-2016.
So what does Coach Frusci do when he is not working out or coaching the team? “Eat. I love to try new restaurants. I’m a foodie.”