Peter Smith, head coach of the University of Southern California men’s tennis program, has guided the Trojans to five NCAA Championships in the past nine seasons. Smith is the only men’s tennis coach to lead four different men’s programs to national Top 25 rankings and is one of only two coaches to guide three different schools to the NCAA quarterfinals and Top 5 national rankings.
He has twice been named ITA Coach of the Year and is a five-time PAC-12 Coach of the Year. He has coached the likes of Steve Johnson (ATP World No. 34) and now, shares his wisdom with Oracle Tennis in this tennis lesson.
What do you enjoy most about college tennis and being a coach?
Helping boys become men. Yes, you are helping them on the court, but hopefully you are having an impact in their life. That to me is very satisfying to watch young men make smart decisions on and off the court. Tennis is the tool that I have been given to connect with young people and that is my life goal to help and improve the people I come in contact with.
What do you see as the common qualities among college players that go pro?
First a desire to travel and put up with the hardships that go along with being a pro – it is not an easy life. A real motivation and love of the game. Players that go pro have big time strengths and small time weaknesses.
What’s the best piece of advice for a college tennis player seeking the path to pro?
Never stop developing your whole self. The tennis players that I know and see making it are very complete people. The ones that struggle are the ones that struggle with life.
How has Oracle’s commitment to tennis help shape college tennis?
Oracle is a leader in college tennis and the pathway they are giving many young people is invaluable.
How can a player best use technology like PlaySight to improve their skills?
Watching video of themselves playing from different angles on their phone or right after the match on the kiosk in highly valuable. Make sure to see the stats on ball spin, shot placement and all the tools that are available.
When you’re not coaching, you are …
With my family. They also play tennis. When I am not doing either I am running, working out or on the water.