Josh Goffi earned his first college head coaching position when the University of South Carolina tabbed him as the leader of its men's tennis program in July 2010. He took the reins of the Gamecock program with a lofty reputation as an elite recruiter with a solid strategic mind and excellent player development skills.
"My first goal in recruiting is to bring in the very best," Goffi said. "Part of that is a player's character. No matter how great a player looks or plays, if he doesn't know how to win or he doesn't show the character that I need to see or that resonates with my program, he won't be recruited. At the same time, if there's a player out there with that strong character, we can build on that and show him the right path to becoming a great player."
Goffi wasted little time living up to his reputation, both in recruiting and player development. The first class of student-athletes to sign with him at South Carolina was ranked No. 3 in the nation by TennisRecruiting.net and included a blue chip recruit, two five-star players and a four-star performer. It was the Gamecock program's first appearance in the organization's rankings. Prior to their arrival on campus, however, Goffi rose to the challenge of his first season with a lineup that lost its top three singles players prior to his arrival. Behind his teaching, a pair of returning players lifted their games to be competitive playing, at times, three places farther up the singles order than they ever had. While the first season did not produce the record Goffi had hoped, he did win both his head coaching debut over Wofford and his first SEC dual match over Arkansas.
In his second season (2011-12), Goffi developed a team that routinely played with three freshmen and two sophomores in the singles lineup into one that finished the season ranked No. 41 in the nation, earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and boasted two entries in the final singles rankings, including 2012 ITA Carolina Region Rookie of the Year Andrew Adams, as well as a top-30 doubles tandem. The youthful group doubled the team's overall and SEC win totals from the previous season. The season's victory total included seven over ranked teams with five of those coming on the road. The team grew steadily into its success, closing the regular season by winning five of its last 10 matches before heading into postseason action.
Despite this being in just his first head coaching position, Goffi has been trained by some of the best coaches in the world, including his father, 1991 World Coach of the Year, Carlos Goffi. The breadth of his exposure to elite level players and coaches helped the younger Goffi quickly formulate the basic tenets of his program.
"My overall philosophy in coaching is to instill the right culture, on the court and off," Goffi said. "College is the four most influential years of a person's life, whether it's development in a sport or as a person. So, as a coach, I start with the person. On the court, the culture starts with discipline, accountability, reliability and teamwork. Day in and day out, we'll be practicing that."
Goffi joined South Carolina after just four seasons as an assistant coach, the last two of which were spent at Duke University with head coach Ramsey Smith, son of tennis legend Stan Smith. The duo wasted little time in returning the Blue Devils to national prominence, turning Duke's sub-.500 record in 2008 into a 16-9 mark in 2009 and a No. 14 final ranking in 2010, the program's highest ranking in three years. The Blue Devils' 20-9 overall record in 2010 included a 10-2 ACC mark, which slotted them second in the league and propelled them to the ACC Championship final match.
The turnaround came largely on the recruiting prowess of Goffi as he inked 2009's top recruit in the world in Brazilian Henrique Cunha. Under Goffi's tutelage, Cunha was named ITA National Rookie of the Year and earned 2010 ACC Player and Freshman of the Year honors. Cunha advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the nation. He and teammate Reid Carleton were named ITA National Doubles Team of the Year after closing the season as the top team in the nation behind a school-record 41-6 record that saw them advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship.
For his effort in catapulting Duke's program into the national limelight, including a spot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Goffi was named ITA Carolina Region Assistant Coach of the Year. It was his second regional honor as he was named ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2008 while helping Arizona State's women's team to a 15-8 record that saw the Sun Devils ranked No. 23 in the nation at season's end. After joining the staff of legendary head coach Sheila McInerney in 2006, Goffi worked closely with individual players on setting goals and strengthening their strategic, tactical and mental abilities.
Goffi began his coaching career after spending four years on the ATP Tour (2001-05). During his professional career, he amassed 18 doubles titles, including three Challengers, rising as high as No. 121 in the ATP in doubles (July 5, 2004). His singles career saw him rise to No. 488 in the ATP (June 16, 2003) as he won a Masters event in Sardinia, Italy, in 2001 and the USTA Sprint Futures title in Elkin, N.C., in 2003. Goffi also claimed the doubles title at the North Carolina tournament, making him one of just six people in the world to turn the double championship in an event that year. Among his six singles wins over top-100 ATP players is a 2004 straight-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka, who later teamed with Roger Federer to win the gold medal for Switzerland in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Before entering the professional ranks, Goffi plied his craft as the top singles player at Clemson University. A three-time All-ACC selection for the Tigers, he earned both the singles and doubles conference championships in 1999 and was a member of the 2000 and 2001 NCAA All-Region teams. He rose as high as No.9 in the singles national rankings and No. 3 in doubles while leading Clemson to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a spot in the 2001 ACC Tournament final. A two-time Academic All-ACC selection, Goffi earned the team's "Mr. Clutch Award" for displaying the courage, heart and determination necessary to pull through at crucial times in 2001. In his four-year career, Goffi posted an 84-64 singles record and an 85-50 mark in doubles. He earned his bachelor of science in financial management in 2001.
Goffi grew up around tennis' elite, lingering around his father's Tournament Tough Tennis Academy to hear the wisdom of various internationally renowned coaches even before he officially embarked on his competitive tennis career at the age of 14. Seeing his father coach the likes of John and Patrick McEnroe, Peter Fleming and Mary Carillo, Goffi absorbed and now implements some of his father's strengths.
"[My dad] is one of the best mental coaches in the world," Goffi said. "He knows how to motivate and how to put things in perspective. As a coach, when you walk on the court, the whole idea is to put things in perspective for the player, who feels like there's a massive magnifying glass on him."
Goffi is married to the former Nancy Augustyniak, a former professional soccer player who spent time with the United States National Team in 2000 and 2001 after a standout career at Clemson. The couple has a daughter, Eliana, and is expecting another this summer.