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'I couldn't wait to come here' - new men's tennis coach Bobby Reynolds
Once ranked No. 63 in the world, Bobby Reynolds still likes to compete in practice against younger players.
Aug. 19, 2016

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - Just in case Auburn's tennis players are unaware that their new coach used to be a big deal, Bobby Reynolds is not opposed to dusting off his racket.

"When I was at Oklahoma, I would get in there and try to battle it out with the guys, especially when they started to bow up and lose respect, and say, `Hey, what do you know?'" says Reynolds, who played professionally for 12 years before getting into coaching last season. "I like to still get out there and compete."

In 2003, at Vanderbilt, Reynolds was ranked No. 1 in the nation, the SEC Player of the Year. Five years later, he made it to the third round at Wimbledon. In '09, he was ranked No. 63 in the world in singles.

Alas, Reynolds says, the reflexes are not what they once were.

"It's just like when you talk to somebody who played high-level golf," Reynolds says. "Ask them if they still play golf, they'll say, `Oh, no, no. It's just not like it used to be.' That's sometimes how I feel. I'm good for about one set."

Hired in June to succeed Eric Shore, who retired after 26 seasons at Auburn, Reynolds helped lead the Sooners to the NCAA Championship match this spring in his one season in Norman.

"I'm so happy. I couldn't wait to come here," he says. "I can't wait for the process and the journey."

Besides the chance to be a head coach in the SEC, Reynolds says family -- his, and Auburn's -- motivated him to pursue this opportunity.

An Atlanta native, Reynolds met his wife, Josie (formerly Hahn), when they were both student-athletes at Vandy.

"We always wanted to come back, and family's big for us," he says. "To be within driving distance is important, and we're happy.

"What Coach Shore has built over the last 26 years, and keeping that legacy alive. I see how well the athletics here at Auburn are supported by the community. And obviously, the more you're winning, the more likely they'll come out and support."



Reynolds is targeting his hometown for recruits.
"One of my strategic points is really trying to capture Atlanta," he says. "I have a lot of great contacts. A lot of coaches who have coached me since I was 10 or 11 years old, in Atlanta. There are so many players in Atlanta. That connection between Auburn and Atlanta just hasn't been utilized in the last 15, 16 years that I know of."

By recruiting players who grew up nearby, Reynolds believes he can build a program where it's easier for former players to remain connected.

"I just feel like the American players engulf and they take whatever school they play for, and they keep it going forever." he says. "I really would like to build an alumni family base here. And obviously, if you're recruiting more within the southeast region, it's easier for them to come back. Be a part, and never really feel like they left."

He's played in the sport's grand venues. The All-England Club. Flushing Meadows. Melbourne. Roland Garros. For Bobby Reynolds, they all take a back seat to playing on campus.

"I loved college tennis," he says. "I think it's, honestly, the best four years. Not even just college, obviously, but being a part of a team. Really taking kids from when they're 16 years old and start to foster that relationship with them. Hopefully, getting them to come to school here for four years. And then they leave better people than they got here.

"Having a sense of pride obviously with Auburn. Always bleeding orange and blue. And always having that with them when they leave school."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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