Argentinian by birth, Houstonian at heart, Patrick Sullivan, the former Stephen F. Austin head tennis coach, was announced last month as the new lady Cougars’ head tennis coach.
According to Sullivan, despite attachment to his SFA team, who he led to a Southland Conference and tournament championship last season, coaching at UH has been a long-time aspiration.
“It’s a tough deal leaving a team, but as a coach, you understand that you probably won’t be at the same place forever,” Sullivan said. “When the job (here) opened I was really excited. I always thought it would be incredible to coach in Houston.”
From the age of seven until going off to college, Sullivan resided in Northwest Houston, where he continued to play tennis, something he had done since he could pick up a racket. Ten years of coaching and three team championship titles later, he returns to Houston to serve-up the University in the nation’s court.
“Patrick is one of the best coaches and recruiters in college tennis,” Auburn University women’s tennis head coach Lauren Meisner told UHCougars.com. “His experience building nationally-ranked teams will bring an immediate impact to UH tennis.”
Sullivan’s plan of attack includes playing tougher competition and recruiting talented players from around the globe, a job which he finds rewarding beyond its tennis aspects.
“I get to find student athletes and give them a great opportunity to come continue (what) they love at a high level and at the same time, get a first-rate education,” Sullivan said. “It’s really rewarding to know I had a little bit to do with getting them on that path.”
Such a student is Greek native and sophomore Elena Kordolaimi, who transferred from SFA with Sullivan.
“I decided to transfer because he really helped me a lot, and he’s really looking out for the (players) in every step that we’re taking,” Kordolaimi said. “Because (of that and because) he’s helped me a lot tennis-wise, I had no reason to stay back there.”
As the season approaches, Sullivan prepares and makes his way through what he describes as the labyrinth leading to his office.
“I still have a hard time finding my locker room, but that is totally outweighed by how happy I am to be (here),” Sullivan said. “I’m excited to come back to my family and have my one-month-old daughter grow up in my hometown. It’s where I’m from. It’s where I want to be. Not many coaches can say that.”