Women's tennis team reaching new heights

Sean Landry

Women’s tennis coach Jenny Mainz is the longest tenured coach at The University of Alabama. In 2014, the team won its first regular season SEC title. It also reached the SEC tournament championship for the first time in program history. In April, Mainz recorded her 200th win at Alabama. The Crimson White caught up with Mainz at the fall sports media luncheon.

Q. How nice is it to see your players have success in tournaments over the summer?

I think a lot of the hard work is done over the off periods, holiday periods and the summer. The fact that they were committed to going and playing a lot this summer is really going to pay dividends down the road this season.

Q. Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe won the NCAA Doubles Title this year. You must be proud of them.

I am. It was incredible. They finished it, you know? What’s kind of neat about them is that they continued to get better through the course of the season. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the spring I wasn’t even playing them together, and through the course of the spring I put them back together. We were trying to find three solid teams that could win for Alabama and it ended up kind of unfolding where they played together, but a lot of times you’re not just finding one or two good teams, you’re finding three good teams. It all came together. I think Maya Jansen did an excellent job with her leadership on the court.

Q. The team won its first SEC Regular Season title and made its first appearance in the SEC Tournament final. What did it mean to you personally to have built the program into a conference and national contender?

It was extremely rewarding. When I got here, we were 0-21. We were kind of the laughingstock of the SEC for many years, not just one or two years. It took us three years to win an SEC match. A lot of people maybe don’t remember that or don’t realize that. I think it’s just been really rewarding to see the years of growth and advancement of the program and the commitment of the student-athletes. I’m pleased that we’re where we are, but it’s a new season, it’s a new slate, it’s 0-0. We have a lot to work to do and we’ve got to do it all over again … We’re going to have to keep getting better in every area.

Q. [Former UA Gymnastics coach] Sarah Patterson’s retirement makes you the “Dean of Coaches,” the longest-tenured coach on campus. Does that achievement mean something to you?

It’s a privilege and an honor. Whatever we can do, whatever I can do but also whatever our program can do to help lead, to help support, to just kind of be there for each other. The team environment that I’m talking about is not just with the women’s tennis program. It’s with the University of Alabama athletic department and the University. It’s Alabama. It’s not one player’s name, one coach’s name – we’re The University of Alabama, the Capstone. To have been here 18 years, just to have the opportunity, it’s a blessing, it’s a privilege and I feel very blessed. I’m fortunate to have the chance to impact young people’s lives and to work with champions.

Q. Your team was relatively inexperienced last year. How much of a difference will the experience gained this season make?

It makes a huge difference. I truly feel that the team aspect and the leadership aspect from within are what can make the difference. I think that was demonstrated last year. I think that our team unity and our leadership from within the team continued to advance and improve through the course of the season, and I think in the end it played a major role in the course of success. Maya Jansen, Natalia Maynetto, Emily Zabor and Luicelena Perez are our four upperclassmen and I’m excited to see what they can bring to the team. I’m optimistic.

Q. Do you worry about mental or physical fatigue when it comes to summer playing?

That’s a really good question. Absolutely. The recovery time period is really equally as important as the training and a lot of times people don’t realize that. I think sometimes as coaches we don’t always recognize or remember that. They can get mentally burned out, physically and I think emotionally. It’s taxing to have that mentality year round… I think they need to have some time away from the tennis courts, and I encourage it.