Wang ready for first season as women’s tennis coach


Sean Hastings

Emily Wang, the new head women’s tennis coach came to Eastern from The Dodds Tennis Center in Champaign. This will be the first collegiate coaching job for Wang.

Sean Hastings, Assistant Sports Editor

Emily Wang was hired as the new women’s tennis coach, making it her first coaching job at the collegiate level.

Wang had been working in the Champaign Park District at the Dodds Tennis Center for the last eight years. She is excited to take the next step and coach at college level. She also was an assistant coach at Centennial High School in 2013 and helped lead the team to a second place finish in the Illinois High School Association sectionals.

She had been working at the Dodds Tennis Center mostly part-time until January when she started working full-time. Wang worked at the hospital in Human Relations and also in the emergency room.

“I feel like this position came at a perfect time for me,” Wang said. “I’ve been coaching for the park district in Champaign for eight years, and I was kind of looking for something else to push my career along.”

Wang said there are many realms of tennis where she was working at the park district where it was open to everybody and it was more recreational.

She added that she did not see herself moving on and working in a country club type setting.

Wang’s first day was Aug. 31, and she was already coaching in her first match just less than two weeks later.

The Panthers were able to get a few wins in the two-day match, and Wang is excited for her first season coaching at Eastern.

“It’s a lot different having the opportunity to work with these high level players and continuing to help them develop,” Wang said. “Helping them with their education and just being a good resource, someone to talk to.”

That is what the biggest change was for her from the Dodds Tennis Center to college. Almost everybody there was there for recreational purposes, and at Eastern she centers her life around tennis and school.

“Those are your main things,” Wang said. “There’s a lot of travel, and there’s just a lot of other things that go with it. Being responsible for the girls, their strength and conditioning, the practice schedule, doing individual lessons with them each week. It’s a different commitment level.”

Just like a freshman coming to Eastern, it takes some time to get used to the campus and find your way around. That is exactly what happened for Wang.

“It’s been really fun getting back on a campus,” Wang said. “I like the campus a lot. I like that it has a smaller feel, and it’s really personable.”

While Wang has to adjust to being new at Eastern, the team also has to adjust to the coaching change.

Wang said she knows that the transition for seniors Ali Foster and Hannah Kimbrough getting a new coach in their final year can be hard as she went through the same situation her senior year at Illinois.

She wants to make sure that they get they feel that they go the most out of everything in their tennis careers at Eastern.

In Wang’s experience with getting a new coach at the University of Illinois, she wasn’t able to get a strong bond with them, as they were very quiet.

“(I want to) just get close with the girls and let them know I’m here to talk to them and help them with whatever I can,” Wang said.

She said she just wants the whole team to feel comfortable with her.

Former coach John Blackburn recruited all of the girls on the roster, but Wang said that she feels that all of the girls are hers.

“I think they’re a great group of girls,” Wang said. “They are super hard working. For me, I’m just excited to have the opportunity to work with them and help them get better.”

In her time here, Wang hopes to have as much success as possible. Not necessarily with just wins, but just make a really positive impact on the University.

When Wang is on the court during matches or practice, she said that she likes to stay relaxed, but also be intense and knows that each player reacts differently to different styles of coaching.

“If I can create an environment where they feel good, they feel confident, they feel confident in me, they will be able to do well,” Wang said.


Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]