University Heights Academy tennis will have a family-like feel to it.
UHA athletic director Grant Shouse announced brother and sister pair Matt and Erin Harper would take the reins of the Blazers tennis program on Tuesday morning.
Erin has been at UHA the last five seasons as a volleyball assistant, while Matt has made rounds coaching soccer in the area.
Erin said it seemed like a great idea to pair up with her brother to help build the Blazers tennis program together.
“When I was asked by Grant about the tennis program, my first thought was, ‘How cool would it be — my brother is in Hopkinsville — if we tag-teamed it,’ ” she said. “I just asked Matt. I know he coaches high school soccer and club. We’re both pretty much busy year-round. I asked him if he had any interest in entertaining the conversation with no obligation to move forward with it, just if he would entertain it. To my surprise, he was very open to that and very excited to have that conversation.”
She said she had expressed interest in the tennis program and Shouse caught wind of the idea and things started rolling.
“Throughout my time here, I had conversations with Faye (Hendricks) about the tennis program and everything,” Erin said. “Then word just got to Grant. They didn’t have a tennis coach this year and they were looking for one. Word got out to Grant that I was interested in talking about it and that’s how fell in my lap. … I’m always open to talk about new opportunities. It was really the connection I had with UHA and my coaching and my experience in the sport.”
Both played tennis at Caldwell County High School during their prep days and have branched out into coaching after school.
Matt said it was Erin that got the conversations with him started and is excited to have the opportunity to coach alongside her.
“This is the first time I’ve come into a position where I am close with the coaching staff already,” he said. “It’s really exciting knowing how she is already and what she brings to the table as well as know what my strengths and weaknesses are. We balance each other really well.”
The focus for the pair now shifts to the real work. The duo will begin preparation for the 2021 season and are looking forward to improving as coaches along the way.
“We just want to see growth,” Matt said. “We just want to see the kids get a little bit better. If at the end of the day we can lay down and say, ‘I think we were able to make these kids a little better,’ I think that’s a success in my mind.”
Erin got the opportunity to get varsity coaching experience this year as she took the helm of the volleyball team for a short period of time. She said she will lean on her experience coaching in volleyball to better prepare her for being the head coach of the UHA tennis program.
“I have already leaned on them,” she said. Faye is a wonderful mentor. I appreciate her support. We have good UHA volleyball families that I’ve already leaned on. That’s what I love about UHA. They are small but they support each other. I’ve already used them for help and I will continue to do so and I think they’re happy to help. They want to see the culture and they want the kids to enjoy their experience.”