Rob Hardin Tennis Interview: Lessons from 30 Years of College and High School Coaching

Rob Hardin has given to the tennis world for nearly 30 years.  Here is a look at his coaching background before we get into our interview:

  • 1987-1990 Assistant Coach for Men’s and Women’s tennis at NKU, 1987 GLVCWomen’s Champions, 1989 GLVC Men’s Champions
  • 1991-1995 Head Coach for the Women’s team at NKU
  • 1991-1996 Head Coach for the Boy’s and Girl’s Tennis Teams at Bellevue HS
  • 1997-2002, 2007-2015 Head Coach for Notre Dame Academy
  • 2003-2006, 2016 Assistant Coach for Notre Dame Academy
  • Career record- 287 W-121 L, NDA 226 W-41 L
  • 2000 Coach of the Year by the KHSAA
  • 2010 Sectional Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High School Coaches
  • 2010 Finalist for the National High School Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association
  • 2011 High School Coach of the Year presented by Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Women’s’ Sports Association
  • 2013 Garnis Martin Outstanding Coach Award presented by the Kentucky High Coaches Association

Rob is a great guy who also strings racquets, teaches private lessons, runs junior tournaments, and is as close to a jack of all trades as I have come across in tennis.

1.  What has been the most rewarding part of being involved in tennis?
It has to be all of the friendships that were developed through coaching.  Also, seeing players develop of the course of the career.
2.  What is the biggest difference between coaching high school and college teams?
The biggest difference for me was the level of commitment to succeed and the willingness to do what ever it takes to achieve. College players are recruited, and there is more expected of them on and off the court. High school players haven’t always made the commitment to the sport. There are exceptions of course.
3.  Given that techniques change from time to time, how has tennis instruction changed over the years?
I believe there is a ebb and flow to tennis instruction. Technique changes with the different styles of play. Racquets and strings have really changed the game over the past 10-15 years. Every player has his/her strengths, weaknesses and things they can and can’t do, and you need to find those early.
4.  How big is the potential for 10 and Under Tennis to increase junior participation?  
I think 10 and Under tennis is a great way to get kids involved and keep them playing. I’ve been teaching 10 and Under for several years now. I think we’re still a few years away from seeing the benefits at the college-professional level.
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Madie Cook, the subject of an earlier Tennis Abides interview, was part of that 2010 Kentucky State Title Winning Team.  Madie won the 2012 Kentucky title in singles playing for Rob Hardin.
5.  What is one of your biggest wins as a coach?
The biggest win was probably the 2010 Kentucky State high school tourney when we weren’t favored to win. We knocked off two higher seeds in the round of 16 to take control of the lead and never looked back. This was under the old format.
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