He's been named coach of the year three times since he's taken over LSU's women's tennis team. But although he's had success with recruiting some of the top players from all over the world, he's still reaching for more.
This man has helped hundreds swing their way to victory. LSU's women's tennis coach Tony Minnis always has his eye on the ball. "We're gonna keep the ball high...you can go ahead and start until you can get 7 or 8 balls on the court. Hang tight...good job...good job", hollers Minnis to one of his players.
"Everybody that just knows him outside of the tennis team thinks he's so easy going and really relaxed, but if you don't go out and compete for a match...you're gonna' see his temper side for sure. He can definitely be tough", says tennis player Tammy Botts.
Tough, but fair. "You can't deal with each kid the same way", says Minnis, "some kids need a little bit more stroking and some kids need you to be hard on 'em." His team says it's that mix of being part counselor, part coach that has taken them to the NCAA tournament seven straight years in a row. "You have to love the competition", smiles Minnis.
Aside from Minnis' drive and intensity, the team relies on a list of his motivational sayings to fire them up on the court. "We're in nuclear war out here...playin' in the sec and, uh, we're gonna shock the world...we're gonna'...I don't know. He's crazy", Botts says, laughing.
Besides having a laundry list of amusing quotes, Minnis' players say he's teaching them lifetime lessons like being able to overcome adversity and tough things out. But, Minnis admits there's an even bigger challenge facing him, getting more African Americans involved in the sport. "To be honest with you", says Minnis, "it's a little disappointing, because you see Venus, Serena, Chanda. And, they're the exceptions."