VIRGINIA BEACH -- When Tom Drabczyk steps out onto the new Everett Tennis Center at Virginia Wesleyan College, it will mark a new experience in very familiar surroundings.
Drabcyzk (left) has been an assistant coach and a tennis player for the Marlins in the past. A two-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference honoree, Drabczyk was a four-year letter winner in the sport at VWC before graduating with a degree in biology. He was an assistant coach with the men's and women's teams last year.
But, now he's in command of the entire program. Drabczyk was recently appointed as VWC's new Director of Tennis by Athletic Director Joanne Renn, and his excitement is effusive.
"It is a honor to take over the tennis program at my alma mater," said Drabczyk. "I know what this College has to offer and what it can become. I am very anxious to get started and help turn VWC into an elite level program. I want to let everyone know we are serious about this tennis program and our ambitions."
His ambitions are high and he's not timid about letting people know that he wants Virginia Wesleyan tennis to be recognized as one of the best programs in the country. But, also knows it will not happen in a day and that it will require attracting some of the nation's best tennis players, and serious students, to Virginia Beach.
"My goals as the new Director of Tennis are to build a winning tradition and compete on a national stage," said Drabczyk. "We want tennis to be considered as one of the premier sports at the College and create national notoriety across the country. This program has had successful years in the past and is only a few key players from returning to that level of success. But, we have no intentions of stopping there. We want to open up a national recruiting base to instantly make us competitive, not just in our conference, but on a national scale. We want each individual team member to have a role that expands more than just a starting spot. This will be a collective effort that allows these student-athletes to feel like they accomplished more than win/loss statistics."
Drabczyk feels he has an advantage as a recruiter because he knows Virginia Wesleyan. He knows Virginia Beach. He knows Hampton Roads. His knowledge can only help in his quest to find future Marlin student-athletes.
"As a former student-athlete, I can give insight into what it means to be a Marlin and help potential recruits connect directly with the school and atmosphere," said Drabczyk. "As a former player, I know what it takes to be competitive at the collegiate level and what it will take to move this program to the level where I want it to be."
Part of that equation for success is a first-rate tennis facility and Virginia Wesleyan has that now with The Everett Tennis Center, an impressive eight-court on-campus facility.
"The Everett Center will really help take this program over the top," said Drabczyk. "This complex instantly makes us credible among elite players with one of the best facilities at the Division III level. Every court has it's own identity and is spectator friendly. You can pick and choose the match you want to see and still get a 360 point of view of every match around you. As a former Old Dominion Athletic Conference player, this facility will complement our rise to the top of the conference and help us stay there."
One person who is definitely excited about Drabczyk's enthusiasm and vision for the program is Renn, the woman who placed him in a new position of leadership.
" I am so pleased to be able to offer Tom the position of our Director of Tennis," said Renn. "He brings VWC tennis such great energy in recruiting and his managing skills as a young coach complement the team's personality. We are also fortunate to retain Edward Kahn, our former Director, as a volunteer assistant. His expertise will no doubt continue to be influential in developing young student athletes. We also welcome Ben Hoskyn '08 (right) as Tom's assistant. I have complete confidence that Tom, Ben and Edward will build a championship program that will proudly and successfully represent the College and showcase the new the Everett Tennis Complex that is set to open this Spring."
Kahn, the Director of Tennis at VWC for two seasons, decided to take a volunteer's role for personal reasons following the Fall 2011 portion of the current schedule. He leaves the program in good hands however, as Drabczyk and Hoskyn have a solid background coaching together at Virginia Beach's Floyd E. Kellam High School. While Hoskyn was the assistant coach for three years, concentrating on doubles, Drabczyk was the head boys' and girls' coach for seven years. His teams compiled a combined 82-42 record and emerged as one of the top teams in the region. His 2005 boys' team advanced to the state championship tournament for the first time in school history.
In addition to the high school experience, Drabczyk has also been the head tennis professional at Great Bridge Swim and Racquet Club in Chesapeake, Va., where Hoskyn has been an assistant coach for two years.
The new coaching alignment will see the Marlins resume competition in the 2011-12 season on Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, with a trio of matches in Lexington, Va. VWC will face host Washington & Lee University on Friday, and Emory & Henry College and Randolph-Macon College on Saturday. Match times are to be determined. VWC will play its first match at The Everett Center on Saturday, March 10, at 1 p.m. against the Quakers of Guilford College.