New Tennis Director Sussman Overseeing Positive Progress
After recently taking on the job of head coach of the Marist College women’s tennis program last year, Director of Tennis Gary Sussman was quickly thrown into a much larger role when he learned he would be heading both the men’s and women’s programs at the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester.
However, in the collegiate sports world, things typically change on a dime, and Sussman has ridden this change to put his entire program in a position to succeed, which they’ve already done over the course of the year to date.
“There was a change in philosophy,” Sussman said in reference to his promotion to director. With long-time men’s head coach Tim Smith stepping down in 2018 after 21 seasons, there was a need for instant leadership in the program, and the athletic director Tim Murray looked no further than Sussman, who took the reigns for both programs as the director of tennis last September. Through the first six months of his leadership, the program has seen plentiful progress on both sides.
The adjustment of the hierarchy structure is not unlike what other Marist athletic programs have done over the years. Rowing, track and field, and swimming & diving all run under one singular director who watches over the men’s and women’s teams.
“It was like a startup of a tech company,” Sussman said. “You have a few bumps, and then you move forward.”
According to Sussman, the transition was smooth, due to the women’s familiarity with Sussman, who had already served in close quarters as the men’s coach the year prior. “The women had a comfort level, because I was there previously, so the upperclassmen, who had gone through three different coaches, felt good that they had the same coach,” Sussman said.
Sussman likes what he’s seeing from the women’s side, particularly with the difficult schedule that the early-spring season often presents.
“Non-conference play is very tough, because we all play a lot of Big East and ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) teams,” Sussman said. “We’ve done quite well.”
A dominant 7-0 triumph over non-conference Colgate University on Feb. 9 proved just that. Sophia Chavaria ‘21, Julia Gabay ‘2, Sam Galu ‘21, Chloe Lant ‘19, and Sophia Moeller ‘19 and Madison Price ‘22 all scored single victories. On the doubles side, Gabay and Galu teamed up to bring home a point, while Moeller and Jada Tijani ‘20 also took home a victory. A third team of Chavarria and Lant emerged victories to give the Red Foxes a signature non-conference that can be built upon.
The men’s side is experiencing turnover, as the team lost its three highest-ranking players (Rudolf Kurz ‘18, Gianlucca Massa ‘18, and Javier Restrepo ‘18) to graduation in 2018. The team has leaned on its younger players to help ease the transition, and Sussman believes the underclassmen have delivered. “The freshmen have gotten a lot of experience, and they’ve stepped up quite well,” Sussman said. A strong 4-0 win over Fairfield University on March 9 featured singles wins from Max Darrington ‘19, John Oxner ‘21, Lars Schouten ‘20, Jack Sequerth ‘22 and Kian Yazdi ‘22, including doubles triumphs from the Darrington-Schouten and Carlos Moreno ‘19-Sequerth duos.
Sussman’s message to his team is simple:
“You don’t want to go into the off-season and say…’if I had done this, this and this, I would’ve competed better,” Sussman said. “You want to be focused, control the situations that you can control, be prepared, and give it your best shot.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Director of Tennis Gary Sussman had been coaching at Marist for 21 years. In fact, Sussman has been coaching at Marist for one year, serving as the women’s program head coach prior to taking on the role of director this year.