With the NCAA Men's & Women's Tennis
Championships just around the corner, we checked in with former Stanford
University head men's tennis coach Dick Gould, who now works as the Director of
Tennis for the Cardinal. Gould was the head coach for 38 years and won 776
matches and 17 NCAA team championships. In this Q&A Gould talks about the tournament, his memories of playing in Athens, his longtime friend and coaching rival Dan Magill, and more.
Thanks to Stanford sports information director
Brian Risso for conducting the interview.
his current role...
"When I retired from
coaching after 38 years, I decided I didn't want to stop working. So I created
a job description that I thought would really help the coaches who were
succeeding me. As Director of Tennis, I would have the responsibility of
overseeing the facility, in addition to efforts with stewardship and
fundraising, and whatever else was needed to make the program run well. I think
it's very fair that I'm not involved in recruiting; a parent doesn't want to
talk to someone who isn't going to be there full-time as a coach for their son
or daughter. So I have no recruiting responsibilities, but if a coach brings by
a player to say hello or something, I'm more than happy to greet them. But when
I was coaching, there were a lot of outside factors that really impacted what I
was doing on the court or could do with the team. A lot of this is my own
doing. I really enjoyed making the schematics for the stadium and developing
the stadium additions. I really enjoyed the fundraising and stewardship aspect,
and working toward some kind of a goal or endpoint. But it did take a lot of
time. So I figured it would be nice if I could continue to do this, and at the
same time relieve our coaches of the responsibility. That gives me time to be
creative in what I do and still represent Stanford well. My current role allows
me more time for public appearances and speaking engagements, either nationally
or around Northern California. That also includes developing our online court
reservation system and refining our video streaming. So my current role has
allowed me the flexibility to do those things."
going to Athens this season...
"I'll be going back to
Athens, probably getting there around the start of the women's and men's
quarterfinals. My schedule doesn't allow me to take more than a few days away,
but I will also certainly be present for the ITA Hall of Fame induction
ceremony, with Dan Magill and two of our players, Patrick DuPre and David
Wheaton being inducted. I want to see our teams compete, so hopefully they are
both able to make it there. I just want to be there and soak it all in. Pick up
different ideas here or there. What are they doing over there that would help
us if we were to host again under my administration? Of course, the University
of Georgia does such a great job and there is an incredible amount of tradition
with the NCAA Championships there in Athens."
memorable moments from NCAA's at Athens...
"One moment that sticks
out in my mind was a loss in the finals. In 1984, we were playing a very, very
good UCLA team, with a terrific doubles team of Mark Basham and Michael Kures
at No. 1. In those days, the match was a best of nine and doubles was played
second. Everything was done, the No. 1 match was on court and I think John
Letts and Jim Grabb were playing for us. Kures from UCLA is standing in the ad
court with the biggest forehand you have ever seen. It was tied up in the third
set for the national championship. Letts was serving and his serve could go out
a little bit, so I wanted to give him a safe serve. It was no-ad scoring and
break point for everyone- if they broke us, they would be serving for the match
or if we held, we would have gotten by a game that was a struggle for us to
win. So there were a couple reasons I called a first serve to the center tee,
which was Michael's forehand. However, Michael hit that ball so hard it came
back before John could take a step into the court. I did that because the net
was lower, it was a pretty safe serve with little angle for a return and I
thought there might be an element of surprise because nobody would ever serve
it there. But he hit that ball so far with his big forehand and that was it.
on, we're sitting around, talking with UCLA after their postgame celebration. I
said, 'Michael, did you know that ball was going there?' He looked at me and
said, 'Coach, I've played against you for several years and I know what you're
going to do. I knew you were going to have that ball go to my forehand. So it
turned out to be one of the dumbest calls I made. Probably cost us a great
chance at a championship. You remember some of those things more than any wins.
Another moment I think was the relief I felt when we won the tournament during
the year (1978) that John McEnroe, Bill Maze and Matt Mitchell were our top
three players. That was a very different kind of a feeling. It was more a
feeling of relief, that we actually got through the tournament and won it. Even
more than the joy of the moment."
Athens, relationships with fans/coaches, treatment he receives as a rival coach...
"You have to always
enjoy going to Athens. It's always a thrill to walk around there and see what
they may have added, what's new, etc. It really gave their program credibility.
They started getting good once they began hosting the championships and doing a
fine job with it. Dan Magill did an extremely good job of staging the tournament
and coaching. That was one thing- I really wanted to host the tournament but I
didn't feel like I could do that and coach at the same time. So immediately
when I resigned, one of the stipulations was that we would be able to bid on
the tournament. Plus, we really wanted to do it with the men and women
together. You go to Athens every year or every other year, and form friendships
with fans, coaching and staff. I just have always loved the atmosphere back
there. I never bought into this thing of coaches have to hate their rivals,
that we have to hate Cal or UCLA. You respect them but you don't hate an
opponent. If it weren't for the opponent, we'd have nobody to play against.
Tennis coaches are really just fun-loving guys in general. I really respected
the guys I coached against. We would trade ideas even back then. I was a young
guy starting out, so I'd try to steal what they were doing."
Dan Magill, on and off the court...
"Dan is one of the most
incredible individuals I've ever met. First of all, he has an unbelievable
memory for sports trivia. He was once even the head SID at Georgia. Dan really
got their athletic program on the map. He's just a great story-teller. I could
remember being in the car with him, several times, begging a ride somewhere and
just listening to Dan and some of those guys tell stories about some of the
battles they had on the court as rival coaches. It was just incredible for me
to sit and listen to him. When he gets a hold of a mic, the room gets ready to
fall off their chairs in laughter because he keeps it light and makes it fun."
would take it a step further and say that I don't know anyone who is a greater
competitor than Dan. Sure, he's fun and nice and will give you that smile. But
Dan really wants to win, and I really respected how he could do that and still
be such a nice guy at the same time. We exchange mail a couple of times a year.
He bleeds Georgia red. He's probably the most loyal person in the whole history
of the university. When Dan retired, it was such a natural thing for him to
become the curator of the Hall of Fame. That was a passion of his all the way
along, as he was doing it while he was coaching. It was pretty much his idea;
he founded it. Dan is still playing competitively at 90 years old, or at least
I believe he was until recently. He is such a competitor. He'll say, 'Oh, last
week I played in the 90 and over's and it was 104 degrees and humid, but I
managed to pull it out. Of course, there was only one other guy alive in the
tournament.' But he's just that kind of guy. Manny (Diaz) was lucky to have
played for Dan. I think Manny picked up a ton of things from Dan. Everyone is
their own person and of course, Manny does things in a class way, but a
different way as well. College tennis will really miss Dan Magill. Not just as
a coach, but his presence. One of those guys that makes college tennis such a
great sport- that's Dan Magill."