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Hawkeye tennis assistant Medvene-Collins helping build young team

BY PATRICK MASON | FEBRUARY 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women's tennis team is 3-0, the best start in the three seasons head coach Katie Dougherty has been at the helm. The squad has a promising young nucleus built around four freshmen whose successes have a direct correlation to the team's accomplishments thus far.

The players and Dougherty garner much of the attention, but assistant coach Jesse Medvene-Collins deserves praise as well for the mark he has made on the team.

"Ellen [Silver, a freshman] committed before he was hired, but everyone else he has been in on," Dougherty said about Medvene-Collins' role in recruiting. "He isn't afraid of the travel or hard work — he's on the court six or seven hours a day no problem, on back-to-back days. He's always positive, and he makes us better each day with his energy."

His energy comes from his love to work with people and make them better, he said.

"What I like about coaching is the different aspects of the job," he said. "Getting the chance to work with kids that are 18 to 22 [years old] and being a positive person in their lives is great."

Medvene-Collins started to direct his attitude and energy into coaching in 2003, one year removed from his own career as a college athlete. He played tennis at the University of Redlands in California, where he was a four-year letter winner and a three-time all-conference honoree.

His path to becoming an assistant coach for the Hawkeyes started in New Hampshire as an aide at Dartmouth (2003-05). He then had assistant stints at Wake Forest, Redlands, and Mills College before he joined Iowa's staff.

"We worked in northern Virginia together when we used to teach clinics. I was an assistant at Penn State, and he was at Dartmouth," Dougherty said. "When I went to Wisconsin, and he went to Wake Forest, we kind of lost touch — [but] when I got this job, his name was at the top of my list for people I wanted to work with."

Tennis was an early love for Medvene-Collins. He saw that his older cousin — and role model — was a very good player, which sparked his interest in both playing and coaching the game.

"Once I got on the court, I loved it — I loved the one-on-one battle when I picked up the racket, and I never wanted to put it down," he said. "… To be part of a season and part of people changing — and helping that process along — is the biggest thing I've learned. It makes you feel really lucky to have that opportunity at a great place like this."

That attitude of pure desire to get better — the "competitive fire" — is what makes Medvene-Collins invaluable for the Hawkeyes as the young team grows. He said he's always thinking ahead so he can know how to fix any situation; his attitude, drive, and knowledge of the game is received well by his players.

"He always knows what to say," freshman Shelby Talcott said. "Even if it's just a few words, he can get you back into the game."

Freshman Morven McCulloch said Medvene-Collins always knows how to get her fired up when she's down — his enthusiasm is so infectious, she said, that the team has a running joke that he might be the person dancing inside the Herky costume at matches.

"He knows us well, and that's important," she said. "He's on my side during the matches and … never lets me get down on myself."


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