Kristina Lott became the new head coach for Drake’s women’s tennis team after Mai-ly Tran left to coach Colorado State’s women’s tennis team.
With this new head coaching change came other recent hires including new assistant coach, James McManus. McManus started with the Bulldogs in early January of this year.
Prior to coming to Drake, McManus was a volunteer coach at Harvard University with their women’s tennis team as well as being a head coach for the tennis team at Waterloo West in their spring season for 2019.
McManus also played college tennis for both Coe College and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. While at Coe College, McManus had a singles record of 18-4.
“My favorite part of college tennis was competing each weekend and traveling with my team,” McManus said. “I met lifetime friends who I still talk to daily.” Prior to playing at the collegiate level, McManus won a state single championship title in the 1A class in the state of Iowa.
McManus said his favorite collegiate memory was taking a spring break trip, traveling with his team to Florida during his senior year.
Last season, the Drake women’s tennis team had a great season, making history by earning a spot in the NCAA after winning their conference tournament for the first time in 20 years.
McManus was drawn to Drake by more than just the team’s positive results from last season.
“I chose to coach at Drake because I have family that lives in Des Moines and growing up in the state, Drake has always had a great reputation for both academics and athletics,” McManus said. “Once I saw the head coach’s impressive resume, I was sold that I was getting myself into a great opportunity.”
After having a solid collegiate career, McManus decided to stay with collegiate athletics for the team atmosphere.
“I became a college coach because winning as a team is very rewarding as opposed to having one of your junior academy players winning a tournament individually,” McManus said. “Fantasy football is my favorite hobby, and building a college tennis team isn’t a ton different. I’ve always had a team first mentality growing up playing other sports.”
Even though the Bulldogs have had just a couple of matches so far this season and about two months of practice, McManus has some great goals for the Bulldogs to accomplish this season as well as a couple of seasons into the future.
“We have a very talented group of girls this year on our team, and I see us having a great chance to make it back to NCAA’s this year, and potentially reaching a top 50 national ranking in the next few years,” McManus said.
McManus said he has enjoyed his time working with the women’s tennis team due to their positivity every day to improve as well as how they handle themselves in matches.
“My favorite part of working with the team is coaching the girls during big points at dual matches and trying my best to coach the best play for the situation,” McManus said.
Senior Kelsey Neville said she is grateful that McManus has joined the coaching staff for the women’s team.
“It’s great to have James as our assistant coach; he shows up to practice every day with a great plan to help us improve,” Neville said. “He also brings great energy to our dual matches. I’m excited to see what the rest of the season looks like for us.”
The Bulldogs are currently 4-2 and will next play against Iowa State University on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m.