Editor’s note: Michael Engdahl is a former Jackrabbit tennis player, who is now taking over for retired coach Don Hanson. We asked him about taking over the program.
Q. What’s it been like going from an SDSU player, to assistant coach, to head coach?
A. It’s been nothing but exciting. When I came in as a player, Don was still getting the foundation set. Each year it has progressed. It’s been fun to see where the program has come from and where it’s going. It’s definitely a program where nothing but good things lie ahead, especially with the progression we’ve made the last three or four years.
Q. What kind of philosophy do you bring to the team?
A. This year we’re all about structure, character and commitment. We want kids that work hard and are getting better each and every day. We have a core group of kids that believe in that philosophy. We’re focused on the smaller goals, not the larger goals.
Q. You know the players on your team well, so how has the transition gone so far?
A. That’s been the best part is that I know the players coming in. I know the potential we have, I know the things we need to work on and like I said, it’s exciting. Knowing what each player is like individually, knowing their strengths and weaknesses and even knowing what makes them tick. With the group of guys and girls we have now, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Q. What are some of the goals of the program?
A. One goal is making the Summit League finals for the first time. That’s our first larger goal. In terms of achieving that goal, I think we have the pieces in place to do that. It’s not a hopes and dreams goal, its very realistic on both the men’s and women’s side.
Q. Are you going to continue the international recruitment of maybe look closer to home?
A. Ideally, what we want to do is turn this into the tennis team of the Midwest. It’s tough in the state of South Dakota getting tennis players. Sometimes we joke it’s like having a hockey team in Hawaii. The talent is definitely there, but we have to build that tradition in order for that Midwest talent to come here. We’re not deliberately thinking international or deliberately thinking Midwest.