The University of Central Florida enters the courts for their first fall season practice today with a new coach and new facility locked in place. Bryan Koniecko, formerly at Brown for two seasons, seeks to bring about a culture of excellence for his team and knows what they are capable of. With a new facility in Lake Nona that could be one of the best, if not the best, facilities in the world, Koniecko feels that his goal of leading the women to a top 10 ranking is completely achievable.
Lake Nona, also home of the USTA National Campus and USTA Florida, sits on 63 acres of land and includes 102 total courts, twelve of which are dedicated to UCF's tennis program's home matches. Koniecko believes that being in this new environment and starting with a clean slate this season are key factors to a successful 2016-2017 season, his first with the Knights.
"We will be in the same training facility with the best players in the national and in the world," Koniecko said.
This type of atmosphere will lead the Knights to new heights. Focusing on the future, the new coach knows that the girls have bought into the mindset of creating an excellent culture. He discussed that it starts with their character and the effort they put in in the classroom.
"It they have work ethic there, then the tennis will come," he said.
The Knights also added a new assistant coach in Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, who played three sports at Texas A&M and played on the WTA tour.
Koniecko worked with several of his new players who were taking summer classes on campus to assist them in getting ready for the fall schedule. He said it seemed like an excellent group and the girls all understood the goals of the women's tennis program.
"They want to be successful, which is so nice to hear because it's coming from them first," Koniecko said. "I'm not begging for excellence."
With that mindset in place, Koniecko and Sanchez-Quintanar will focus on player development. With more attention to detail, the coaches believe this outlook will lead to the most success. The coaches will have a few newcomers this fall, including freshman Claudia May from Australia.
A positive team atmosphere and drive for excellence lead the Knights to their first fall tournament at the end of September at the Bedford Cup. It remains to be seen what this year's Knights will produce, but the new coaching staff has only the highest of expectations for the new season.