Vicky Maes enters her 12th year as the head women's tennis coach of the Arizona Wildcats.
One of the greatest players in Arizona women's tennis history, Maes has been at the University since 1994. She first got her start as a student-athlete, then continued on as a coordinator for the model Life Skills Program and has been the head coach of the women's tennis team since October 2001. Aside from her duties at Arizona, Maes also currently serves as the Southwest Regional ITA Chair.
While transitioning from playing to coaching can be challenging for some, Maes feels her experience as a player has helped her be a better coach.
"I believe one of my strengths is that, to this day, I can relate to my players," Maes said. "Being a student-athlete comes with a great amount of responsibility. It means you have to be willing to make personal sacrifices every day. I understand this can sometimes be overwhelming for a young person. As a result, our students need a solid support system and we provide that here."
A native of Belgium, Maes has achieved many coaching successes at Arizona in her eleven seasons at the helm of the program. The Wildcats have recorded a remarkable record against teams that are continuously ranked among the top in the nation. Consequently, Maes has led the Wildcats to team and/or individual postseason competition each year, won the 2003 Ojai Pac-10 title, and produced several first team All-Americans and All-Pac-12 players along the way. Maes recruited a top-15 class in 2010, and has built a reputation for developing her players in a short period of time.
"One of the most enjoyable things for me as a coach is to develop my players. I spend a lot of time looking at individuals who do not only have the talent to get better but, more importantly, possess the will to work on it day in and day out. Everyone can improve, but not everyone will truly commit to what it takes to get there. We have built a culture here where players understand that their dedication to personal development is the greatest gift to the team, and the best way to contribute to the program. We enjoy a culture here where we are all accountable to each other, every day."
In addition to on court dedication, Maes also expects a strong academic commitment from each member on the team. As a result, the Wildcats are just as triumphant in the classroom as on the court. The team currently holds a 100% graduation rate and, every year, members of the squad are recognized for scholastic achievements, earning several post-graduate scholarships and all-academic awards.
"I strongly believe that an athlete who takes care of things in the classroom will also take care of things on the court," Maes said. "Tennis requires a large amount of personal drive, as it is an individual sport, and we recruit only those players who we know will dedicate themselves to academic success as well."
In the upcoming year, Maes anticipates further successes for the Cats.
"We had a really successful year last year, finishing with a solid record (16-9) and making it to the second round in the NCAA Team Championships," Maes said. "We started the season ranked in the mid-30s and finished at number 27. Our goal all along was to make it to the Championships again as a team. The girls never lost sight of what we wanted to accomplish and that was key. We had to work very hard for it all year, pulling out several close matches to make it happen. I was extremely proud of the way we competed every weekend. We now look forward to build on that some more."
Maes feels confident that this year's squad will be very competitive in the upcoming season.
"We are going to be solid again in 2012-13," Maes said. "Our goal is to keep moving up in the rankings and put Arizona in the top 25. Our team is well-balanced in terms of experience and, even though we have no seniors this year, the newcomers fit in perfectly. Our players are challenging each other for spots in the line-up and that is a coach's dream. While we lost key players in Natasha Marks and Sarah Landsman, we have been able to reload with three very talented kids. They are extremely driven and motivated to contribute to the success we have built over the last few years and they will all make a strong impact in team play."
As a tennis player for The University of Arizona, Maes was the squad's No. 1 singles and doubles player throughout her entire career. She was named the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year in 1996, as well as being tabbed a four-time first team All-Pac-10 selection. Maes was named to the Pac-10 All-Decade team in 1998, was the 1996 Arizona Women's Sports Foundation College Athlete of the Year, a four-time All-American (1995-98) and the nation's top-ranked player in 1996 and 1997.
Maes, who is fluent in Dutch, English and French, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a Major in Marketing and a Minor in International Business Studies. She was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection and a GTE Academic All-America choice in 1996. In 1998, Maes was a finalist for the NCAA's Great Eight award and won the Ruby Award, which recognizes UA's top female student-athlete in the field of athletics, academics and personal development.
For her efforts, Maes was inducted in the University of Arizona's Hall of Fame in the fall of 2003.