By Nick Pantages
After a transition season this fall without a full time head coach of both the men’s and women’s tennis programs, newly-hired Tanner DeVarennes hopes to steady the ship at the top of both programs.
DeVarennes graduated from Springfield College in 2017, playing on the team during his undergrad years. He was the 2014 NEWMAC Rookie of the Year, and a two-time all-conference player in his final two seasons.
Playing on Alden Street was definitely a deciding factor in coming back for DeVarennes.
“The Springfield College athletics experience is top notch. They do everything first class,” he said. “It was just an unbelievable experience playing here.”
DeVarennes went on to receive his masters degree in physical education in the spring of 2019, serving as the graduate assistant for the men’s tennis team during that time.
After finishing grad school, DeVarennes took the women’s head coaching job at American International College, and after that, an assistant coaching position for the men’s and women’s teams at Fairfield University for one season.
All of this experience at different destinations has allowed DeVarennes to learn from not only the natural progressions of being a young coach, but also the teachings of others.
“It really just broadens your horizons, not only within the game, but the network of coaches so you can really learn and draw from a lot of different first hand experiences,” he said.
One of the goals DeVarennes hopes to achieve as the head coach of the Pride is to help stabilize a program that has been in constant flux. As the third coach in two seasons for the tennis teams, DeVarennes looks to bring some much needed leadership to both programs.
“I plan to bring consistency, and I plan to stabilize the program, not only in the short term but also the long-term future,” DeVarennes said.
The players also recognize the importance of stability with the program. David Kilburn, a senior on the men’s team, noted how in just three years on the team, DeVarennes will be his third coach. However, Kilburn is optimistic for what DeVarennes can accomplish during his time here.
“I’m really excited to have him as a coach, because I think he knows how to stabilize this unit because he’s been through the motions as a player here,” Kilburn said.
Not only is the short-term stability important to Kilburn, but the long-term stability he can provide is equally important. With seven first-years rostered out of 14 total players currently, DeVarennes has a young roster to make an impact on that he can lead in their first couple years of college tennis experience.
Despite this being Kilburn’s last year playing here, he is very optimistic for the future of the program – but more for what DeVarennes can teach the players while he is here.
“[The first-years] are wicked talented, a lot of them were starting in the fall. Coach just needs to push them in the right direction on and off the court, and the future looks bright,” he said.
Stability and overall consistency is DeVarennes main goal, however it is not his only top priority. His second priority comes from his core values as the “Three C’s: Competition, Cooperation, and Community.”
For DeVarennes, competition is the one thing that makes a team the hungriest.
“We want to compete every day, on the court against another team, during practice, in the weight room,” he said. “We want to compete to not only bring out the best in ourselves, but also challenge our teammates to do the same.”
Kilburn has also noticed the emphasis DeVarennes has put on competition despite only being on Alden Street as a coach for a couple of weeks.
“We’ve had some preliminary meetings as a team and me individually, and he loves talking about the competition,” Kilburn said.
Cooperation will come with time, as many of the players on the team are a tight knit group; especially the women’s squad, as they graduated just one player last year.
The final and most important value to DeVarennes is community. Springfield is a very athletics-oriented campus, and establishing the tennis programs as a popular sport on campus is a goal of his.
DeVarennes said, “I really want to grow the image of the program, so that when students see our gear, they want to be a part of it and they understand the significance of being in the Springfield College tennis program.”
Kilburn has noticed similar things from the goals of DeVarennes, emphasizing the importance of establishing the tennis program as an esteemed sports team on campus.
“We really want to prove to the Springfield College community that Springfield tennis is here, and that we are for real.”
With all these goals in mind, DeVarennes is still a young head coach, while also being seasoned and well traveled through multiple different levels. The stability and consistency he looks to provide in the short term, but also the long term will help him look to navigate the Pride as a force in the NEWMAC tennis landscape for the present and future.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Athletics