June 3, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After a difficult 0-24 season during the 2013 spring campaign, Southern Miss's women's tennis head coach Dominic Modise has begun righting the ship.
"I think we're growing and I think we've done a great job this year as a team," Modise told SouthernMiss.com in a recent interview. "We went from a losing season to challenging teams that are nationally ranked and finishing in the top half of the conference. I think we're making some strides to be better and better."
Modise, who has tremendous experience in the collegiate tennis realm, maintains a few simple focuses in his coaching approach.
"Stay motivated, stay focused. Be ready to compete and stay healthy," said Modise. "I think those are the key things that need to be addressed all the time."
That extensive coaching experience has helped Modise overcome many obstacles in the past and he hopes to continue instilling confidence in his players.
"My coaching experience has helped me a lot. We learn every day. It doesn't matter how long you've been in the job, you're still learning every day," explained Modise. "Without experience, it's difficult to deal with the obstacles and things that are challenging in order to be successful, in order to make things work for your players."
In addition, transforming the women's tennis program is an exciting experience for Modise.
"It's exciting to see the kids succeeding, on and off the court," said Modise. "Also seeing them graduating, making something out of their lives and seeing them grow every day is great."
That transformation has led to some stellar play from four freshmen who earned all-conference honors this past season. The freshman group included Carolin Drescher, who received second team honors, Mahitha Dadireddy, Lisa Noderer and Alex Kitchen, who earned third team all-conference accolades.
"They all had great years and I'm proud of them," Modise shared, whose team finished 12-13. "It was more of a cultural shock as freshmen playing college tennis and playing in a competitive conference, because they needed to learn what college tennis is about."
With players from India, Germany and Russia, the adjustment to American culture has been somewhat difficult for Modise's players.
"It's not easy. It's like when you arrive in this country trying to figure out what things cost and why Wal-mart has everything," explained Modise. "You have to adjust everything culturally and you have to adjust to practicing every day and being busy all the time."
Even though the transition has been tough for his international players, Modise continues to instill his motto of not giving up.
"We don't give up. We fight until the end and I think that's what we stand for. We fight," said Modise. "That's been one of the best things about our program."
In addition to helping improve the women's tennis program, Modise also understands the importance of fundraising and giving back to the community.
"[Fundraising] is very important. It's always good to give back," explained Modise. "It's important to teach kids today that they have to give back. They have to help others and realize that they are fortunate."
Along with fundraising, Modise has made it a point of emphasis about how important education is to a student-athlete's overall college experience.
"It's very important because it's what they came here for," explained Modise. "When they signed their scholarship they knew it's all about being a student-athlete and growing as a person both socially and on the court. That makes them successful because in the real world you have to be diverse and you have to deal with a lot of things."
As players come and go in Modise's program, he hopes that they leave with a few simple life lessons in the process.
"My hope is they look at life as a journey; it's what you make of it," said Modise. "They should also be team players wherever they go and build memories and relationships."
With primarily freshmen on Southern Miss's women's tennis roster, the future looks bright for the Golden Eagles. Modise has high hopes for his team in the near future.
"Hopefully we can get to top 75 in the country and top 4 in the conference," said Modise. "That would be amazing."