TENNIS : Tan’s relationship with stepfather as coach helps her become leader

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm Commentscenter_img Christina Tan grew up with the advantage of having a coach in her own home. She played both soccer and softball throughout middle school, but by the eighth grade she knew tennis was the sport she wanted to pursue.Rob Horsch is partially to thank for her transition to tennis. Horsch, Tan’s stepfather, was an assistant coach for the Nevada, Las Vegas women’s tennis team for the 1992-93 season and now works as an instructor on his own.Tan said her stepfather taught her not to worry about winning or losing. And to stay mentally tough by keeping her focus despite surrounding distractions.‘One thing I have always emphasized is before you go into your match, have a specific game plan,’ Horsch said in an email. ‘It requires some preparation regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, and getting your ‘head’ right for the match.’Her decision to pursue tennis led her to Syracuse, where Tan has flourished. SU head coach Luke Jensen said Tan, now a senior, was the only freshman captain of a team in SU athletics history. This year, Tan has played mainly in the No. 4 spot in SU’s rotation. She has 96 wins in her four-year career.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJensen said it is rare for a team to have a freshman captain. The head coach said it is difficult for a first-year player to take on that leadership role and earn the respect of the older players.But Tan could handle that responsibility.‘Honestly, I never ever had to worry about her,’ Jensen said. ‘It makes life so much easier when you have someone you can count on.’Jensen said Tan is a ‘tough out.’ She forces her opponents to beat her because she doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, he said. She stays aggressive on the court while still maintaining her steady style of play.Jensen attributes part of her success to her stepfather. He said living with Horsch was an advantage because she was always around the game. Jensen said Horsch taught her an all-around game and how to think like a pro.‘She has benefited from that environment,’ Jensen said. ‘It shows when she’s competing.’Alessondra Parra, Tan’s roommate and teammate, said even when Tan is off the court, she is working to get better.‘You can always count on her,’ Parra said. ‘She’s just that kind of person.’Tan said one of the biggest lessons she has learned from her stepfather is to appreciate the opportunities as a Division I tennis player because many people never get the chance. She said she probably would not be a tennis player if her stepfather had not introduced her to the game.She also emulated his style of play.‘His consistency and his fitness … are two things that have bled into my game as I was growing up,’ Tan said.Horsch said Tan’s strong level of fitness has been key to her success. Her mother, a physical trainer, helped her in terms of conditioning. And he credits Jensen and associate head coach Shelley George with helping her mature.But Horsch’s influence on Tan’s development cannot be understated either.‘I believe coaching Christina has helped her game develop to the collegiate level,’ Horsch said. ‘During her sophomore year in high school she set the goal to play Division I tennis at a top university. Her mother and I merely helped her stay the course and encouraged her to keep on going.’sbhastin@syr.edulast_img read more