Former player becomes tennis coach

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Former player becomes tennis coach

Story by Katie Thurbon

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Baker University likes to keep it in the family.

With several faculty, professors and coaches on campus being Baker alumni, head men’s and women’s tennis coach Joe Ahmadian fits right in.

“Because I was a Baker graduate and played tennis at Baker, I am totally invested in the success of the program,” Ahmadian said.

This is Ahmadian’s first year as head tennis coach. He played tennis for Baker from 2003 to 2007 and then became an assistant coach during his fifth year of school.

“I think it’s a great sign of how people feel as graduates that they want to come back and build the program they were a part of as a student-athlete,” Athletic Director Theresa Yetmar, who also is a Baker graduate, said.

After Ahmadian graduated, he coached in Kansas City and then Lawrence at tennis clubs.

“When the position came open, I was already coaching at a club, but it wasn’t even a thought that I would apply, it was automatic,” Ahmadian said. “The Baker chain just means so much to me.”

Ahmadian has a hands-on coaching style and also encourages his players to be self-driven.

“It’s what I learned as a player,” Ahmadian said. “You are on the court by yourself during a match, and while coaches can be there to show you things in practice, you have to learn to hold yourself accountable.”

Senior Stephen Donly said Ahmadian “is very calm and collected with his coaching methods and he tries to preach that onto everyone else.”

Sophomore Danielle Griggs said it has been nice to have a coach that had a lot of experience in tennis.

“There’s been a lot of coaching changes in the last three years, but Ahmadian really knows what he’s doing, and I feel has turned the team morale around,” Griggs said.

Donly said Ahmadian is a very flexible coach when it comes to balancing academics with tennis.

“As a former student-athlete in that program, you really understand the nuances of what it takes to play and be a student,” Yetmar said.

The assistant coaching staff is also composed of personnel who previously played tennis at Baker.

“Keith Pipkin and Taylor Bonar are both fifth-year seniors and they are great to still have on the team,” Ahmadian said.

Pipkin is the men’s assistant coach and Bonar is the assistant coach for the women’s team.

Ahmadian felt having three coaches who have had the experience of being  Baker tennis players helps in building relationships with the teams.

“Ahmadian has been very high energy with our program and connected really well with our tennis teams,” Yetmar said. “I’m excited about all of the progress he’s made.”