Kevin McGlynn is doing something not many others have the opportunity to do – hold the same position for a second time in the span of 20 years.
McGlynn is back at the helm of the Seton Hall women’s tennis team, a position he held from 1991-96. A former tennis player himself, McGlynn compiled a 70-34 dual match record while coaching the Pirates to their only NCAA Tournament bid in 1996.
“It is a tremendous landing spot for me; where I am personally and coming back here has been exciting,” McGlynn said. “It’s worked out well from an administrative standpoint. Personally I think it’s gone well, and I think from the players’ standpoint, it’s gone well.”
It was Kristen Downing, a member of the 1996 team, that helped McGlynn find his way back to the Hall. Downing was being inducted into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016, and with McGlynn present, Downing connected the program’s most successful coach with the current Director of Athletics, Pat Lyons.
“[Downing] and I have stayed in touch over the years and she asked me to play in the golf event during the induction ceremony,” McGlynn said. “In that lead up, I got to meet Pat Lyons and came on campus. It was brief, but we got to have a nice chat at dinner, so he and I learned each other’s name and face.”
McGlynn knows he is taking over the Pirate program at a time when results may be lacking. Still, when he looks at the roster, he sees talent and a strong potential to make a run, both this season and moving forward.
“Ultimately, we want to be competitive and a threat to win the Big East, and I think that’s reasonable and a fair expectation for a program such as Seton Hall’s,” McGlynn said. “From what I’ve seen out there, we have enough talent to do that, but as we all know, talent doesn’t necessarily mean wins. It’s some of those other intangible things that might need a little more emphasis, and I think we could see that happening.”
Some may question McGlynn and his ability to take over and coach to the level he set before after such a hiatus from the program. Despite the 20-year gap between coaching stints, McGlynn does not feel he has lost a step.
“Friends have come up to me and asked, ‘Wow you can jump right in and be comfortable,’ and it’s one of those things I feel like is part of me,” McGlynn said. “Coaching is coaching, coaching is dealing with people. As for the tennis part of it, most of these players have had a tremendous amount of time and input through their junior careers to get here. To me, it’s managing them as people and getting them to have a better appreciation of their strengths and weaknesses, while trying to get them to do their best.”
Within his emphasis of intangibles, McGlynn will aim to have each player reach her fullest potential, with the knowledge that they have left everything they had on the court.
“There’s nothing more frustrating to me than a player who has talent, demonstrates that, but has an emotional disconnect that doesn’t allow them to achieve what they are capable off,” McGlynn said. “At the end of the day, the majority of these players know how to hit the ball, it’s who is going to have the enthusiasm and the desire to get out there and go through what it takes to win a tennis match and that is not easy to do.
“There’s no guarantee that means you’ll win, but hopefully you have a chance to win. As long as we can leave the court saying that we gave it a really sincere and honest effort, then that’s all I’m asking for.”
Student-athletes such as sophomore Melody Tall have noted the connection the team has felt with McGlynn since he started on March 14.
“After meeting our coach two times, we went to L.A., and it really helped us bond with the coach; but, also as a team because, we all felt a dysfunction between the coach and the team, and now we feel like we’re one team now,” Taal said. “Not a coach and a team, but we’re a team together. Spring break really helped and the matches around then.”
After almost one month of getting to know the players and the present-day athletic landscape, McGlynn is excited to be back in South Orange, and is ready for round two.
Nick Santoriello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NickSantoriello.