Chase Hodges and Calvin Kemp
Georgia State University Team Page
Chase Hodges is a winner simply put. He has coached three different universities to their first national rankings and has resurrected programs at Longwood University, UNC Asheville, and most recently Drake. The 3-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year directed the longest winning streak in college tennis with 47 straight regular season wins while at Drake. He also coached Drake to 42 straight home victories. After compiling an 85-17 record while at Drake, Hodges left last summer to head to Georgia State University. The situation that Hodges inherited at GSU was not a pretty one. GSU had lost 37 straight regular season matches entering the 2010 season. The Panthers posted a 0-19 regular season mark in 2009. Many questioned Hodges’ decision to take the job at GSU. Hodges is quick to modestly comment that “players win matches” but it is hard to disregard the impact that he has immediately imprinted on the GSU program. When speaking of the situation when he arrived in Atlanta, Hodges states, “I enjoy a challenge and every job that I have had in college tennis has presented those to me. Some people probably questioned my decision to take over an 0-19 program but I always felt Georgia State should be a top program in college tennis. GSU has great academics and is in the best tennis town in the USA.”
The Panthers are currently 6-2 on the young season with several impressive victories. The 6-2 record is truly remarkable considering the shape that the program was in just a few months ago. Hodges brought in a 4 man recruiting class in January to cause the tremendous turnaround which is on par for one of the greatest turnarounds in college tennis history. The cornerstone of that class is Calvin Kemp (Atlanta, Ga). Kemp currently boasts a record of 8-0 including a victory over a nationally ranked opponent.
Hodges has high hopes for the men’s tennis program at Georgia State but does realize that Georgia State’s lack of an on campus facility does pose a challenge. “It certainly makes things more difficult in that we have to travel to practice. However, I truly think it makes my guys tougher. Life is not easy. My guys understand the situation and we make the most of it. GSU is an urban campus and complaining about a situation is not going to get us anywhere.” It is that type of mentality that has another college tennis program benefiting from the leadership of Coach Hodges.
You can speak to some of Hodges’ former players and they will tell you that they are not at all surprised by any of the success. Hodges recruited and coached Maor Zirkin (Kibutz Hazor, Israel) to the all times wins mark of 228. Yes, that is correct. 228 singles and doubles wins in 4 years. This mark may rival a number at any school in the nation. Zirkin played under Hodges for four years at Drake and comments, “Chase’s ability to understand tennis players’ individual needs, winning mentality, and charisma really inspired me and my teammates throughout my career. I feel fortunate to have played my entire 4 years at Drake under Chase.” Dado Pavic (Adelaide, Australia) who Hodges coached to a national ranking of #16 in the nation in singles and #17 in the nation in doubles (with Zirkin) comments, “It is no coincidence that success follows Coach Hodges. His remarkable work ethic, savvy recruiting, and the ability to develop close relationships with each individual teammate lays out a promising path for any program he is a part of. He was a tremendous leader and friend to me at Drake University and I was very fortunate to have enjoyed my success alongside of him.”
Sam Winterbotham, head coach of the #2 Tennessee Volunteers and 2008 SEC Coach of the Year, states “It does not surprise me that Chase has turned GSU around. He has proven he can recruit winners and gets the most out of his players. Chase will no doubt continue this trend in the next few seasons and have GSU fighting for conference honors and doing well in the NCAA tournament.”
Brian Boland, head coach of the #1 Virginia Cavaliers and former NCAA Coach of the Year, comments “Chase has done a great job everywhere he had been. His results speak for themselves and I expect Georgia State to move into the national rankings in the near future."
With 8 matches under his belt at Georgia State, Hodges only sees the program getting better and better. “To be honest, I did not think that things would turn around this quickly for the program. We are really doing the best that we can this first season. We just want to get better every day and the results will tell the story. I’m just excited to be doing what I love to do and will continue to work as hard as possible.”
It is with that hard work that Georgia State will be a legitimate contender on the college tennis scene.
Article written by: Brian Masters