rett Masi said he “couldn’t ask for a better week” when two coaching milestones were achieved within days of each other this spring.
He experienced euphoria when USC defeated Ohio State to capture the NCAA national championship men’s tennis team title on May 19. Masi, the top assistant coach to USC head coach Peter Smith since 2005, said the thrill of that victorious moment was one to savor.
“People just don’t know everything that goes into accomplishing something like that,” Masi says. “To win a national championship is truly a special feeling that goes throughout your body. All the work you put into it comes at you all at once when you win. It was worth all the effort.”
Two days later, Masi got another taste of bliss when USD hired him for his first collegiate head coach position. The 30-year-old from Riverside, Calif., accepted the chance to build a program that’s trying to move forward after the passing of longtime coach Tom Hagedorn, who lost his valiant 18-month battle with leukemia on March 21.
“I want to give a sense of stability,” Masi says. “I want to build on what Tom had here and keep the program going in the right direction.”
The Toreros have a young team, led by No. 1 singles player Dean Jackson, who earned Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-America recognition last season.
“I look forward to coaching all of them,” Masi says. “Most of the players are freshmen and sophomores. I want to make them stronger and get them going. Dean (a junior) made it to the round of 16 in the NCAAs, and I want to help him become the top-10 caliber player I think he is.”
The tennis season doesn’t officially start until early 2010, but the fall practice season enables Masi to assess the entire program. “The fall means a lot of good playing time on the court, more training and a chance to get to where this team wants to be.”