Although entering her 16th season as head coach for The University of Alabama's women's tennis team, Jenny Mainz's philosophy on coaching remains the same. This past season was one of many great accomplishments, and Mainz is confident that this coming season will be no different.
"I'm not surprised at all by the success we've been able to achieve these past few seasons," says Mainz. "Our team has been diligent and worked tirelessly to be able to have the foresight to recognize a problem and the fortitude to execute the solution. Our success has definitely been exciting though. We are certainly capable of winning an SEC Championship and even a National Championship in the coming years, and I think we're really moving in the right direction to be able to do that."
It was evident Mainz was putting something special together early on in 2011 when the Tide went to the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships and swept both the singles and doubles titles which granted Alabama a spot in the prestigious USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y. That success continued on into dual match play where the Tide went 15-5 in the regular season en route to capturing the 2011 SEC Western Division title.
Alabama bettered its win total in 2012, capturing 18 overall victories helping the Tide earn the right to host the NCAA First and Second Rounds for the first time. The Tide also had some very noteworthy wins at No. 5 Georgia, marking the Alabama's second win over the Bulldogs and first since 1977, as well as its first 7-0 sweep of South Carolina in program history.
Mainz attributes her team's recent success to its relentless attitudes and unwillingness to surrender, and though it would be easy for Mainz to take all of the credit herself, she is quick to point out how this is the program's success and not hers alone.
"The success our program has experienced has definitely been a collective effort," says Mainz. "Everyone from the players, to the assistant coaches, to the trainers, to the student advisors, to the administrators--have played a role in helping us achieve this level of success. The head coach may lead the program, but it has to be done with the right people backing you up."
And lead the program she has. Mainz was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. In addition to her personal achievements, she also led her team to its best finish in the SEC, coming in at No. 2 with a 10-1 record en route to its fourth SEC Western Division title, and second in two years. Last year, Mainz coached her second All-American and first NCAA Elite 89 recipient in Mary Anne Macfarlane along with Academic All-American Courtney McLane, who was also named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second straight season.
As proud as Mainz is of her team's on-court success, she is equally as proud of their academic success.
"Academic success is imperative. I have always stressed the importance of academics and I always tell my players that no one can ever take your education away from you. I hope to help produce student athletes who are well equipped to make an impact beyond tennis," says Mainz.
In order to help produce such well-rounded women, Mainz preaches three things to her players: having a blue-collar work ethic, striving for constant improvement and working together as a team.
"I always stress that you have to do the work day in and day out," says Mainz. "We also work every day to make improvements. Every single one of our players has gotten better during their time playing tennis for UA. And last, we try to make sure that our environment is one where there are no superstars; everyone is on an equal plane."
Mainz says that her players play for each other as much as they play with each other.
"We are all cooperative and supportive of each other, and above all, we have fun together," says Mainz. "Everyone on the team has a role to play, whether they're in the number one position or the number eight position. I always tell the girls that we are an 8-cylinder machine, and we have to fire every time we go out."
Looking to the future, Mainz is focused on continuing to recruit not just the best players but also the right players.
"Recruiting is one of the keys to any successful program. We continue to recruit players who have their best years of tennis in front of them--players who will work hard and display a championship mentality," says Mainz.
Mainz adds that working to build a strong program is a process, and one that the team continues to build upon each season.
"What I really want to emphasize with our program is that everything we do is to help build and increase our level of success," says Mainz. "It's all about playing together and getting better every day. This getting better may be on the court, in the classroom, socially or within the community, but we are always striving to make improvements."
Mainz, the only coach in Alabama history to take the Tide to six consecutive NCAA Championships and 10 overall, has had nine teams finish in the top 40 in addition to 16 singles players and 11 doubles teams ranked in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls. Her 2012 squad made history, wrapping up the season in the No. 11 spot, which is the highest final ranking for the program.
Mainz is actively involved in collegiate tennis on the national front serving on the ITA's Operating Committee. She also served as the chairperson for the ITA's South Region for five years and assumed the same role for the newly-formed Southern Region in 2010.
Mainz, once ranked in the top ten nationally in doubles, was a three-year team captain for the University of Houston Cougars and a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection, garnering numerous accolades for her dedication to the game of tennis on the court. Off the court, however, is where she really shined, earning GTE Academic All-American status and Dean's List honors while a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society. Mainz graduated with a degree in kinesiology from Houston in 1991.