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Friday, June 21, 2024
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UB’s women’s tennis coach on her unique but effective recruitment style

Kristen Maines has only recruited seven non-international players in 12 seasons

<p>UB women's tennis coach Kristen Maines spoke with The Spectrum about her team-building philosophy.</p>

UB women's tennis coach Kristen Maines spoke with The Spectrum about her team-building philosophy.

Kristen Maines has been involved with UB women’s tennis for 21 seasons. 

She played tennis for the Bulls, graduating in 2006 with records in singles and doubles. After serving in multiple roles on the sideline, she was finally promoted to lead the program in August 2012.

Maines is a Western New York native — but her teams from the 2017-18 to the 2022-23 season were composed entirely of players that were born a long way from the Empire State. Until Clarence, New York native Julia Laspro was recruited this season every team member hailed from outside the U.S.

In her entire time as head coach, she’s only recruited seven non-international players to her squad: Miranda Podlas, Margarita Kotok, Dayana Agasieva, Haley Hollins, Sydney Siembida, Gabriella Kivovich and now Laspro.

But Maines said she didn’t do that on purpose.

“We absolutely recruit within the United States,” Maines said. “But to get the level of players that we need to be competitive and consistently do well in our conference, we need to go overseas.”

That recruitment philosophy has been undoubtedly successful for UB women’s tennis. Maines became the program’s all-time winningest coach in 2023, achieved a 20-8 overall record in 2022 (a single-season program record) and has won two Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships.

Maines has high expectations for any recruit: an English proficiency, a high International Tennis Federation ranking (ITF) in their country and most importantly, high academic performance. 

“Tennis is a mental game and a physical game,” Maines said. “There’s a lot of overlap between high excellence in the tennis court and high excellence in the classroom.”

In the fall 2023 semester, women’s tennis had a 3.681 grade point average, the highest across all UB Athletics programs.

“And you have to be a good person,” Maines said. “We are bringing in people from all over the world, and team culture and team dynamic is very, very, important to me.” 

On a team with players from all over the world, cultural barriers are sure to crop up. There are currently nine different nationalities represented in the women’s tennis roster… and nine players total. Faced with these challenges, Maines adapts and does everything she can to bring her team together.

“We really set the standard from the beginning,” Maines said. “Team meetings, team bonding, team meals — we just make it very kind of overkill of all the stuff we do together as a team.”

“It’s time consuming, and it’s definitely a lot of extras, but I don’t find it difficult,” Maines said. “It’s for our team's benefit — and in reality — my benefit. It’s a lot more than just coaching on the tennis court.”

Maines has been able to bring her teams together over the years and build up the program. Her accolades speak for themselves, and even after a successful career thus far, Maines isn’t done. She still has goals for her team and for the program as a whole.

“You can never have too many MAC championship titles. I’d love to win [the MAC] tournament and get back to the NCAA [tournament],” Maines said. “That’s something you would never get tired of no matter how successful you are.”

Ricardo Castillo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at ricardo.castillo@ubspectrum.com

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