If Monica Robinson’s enthusiasm for tennis ever wanes – and at age 22 it hasn’t – she’s got a ready-made antidote at Lubbock Country Club.
It’s called Coaching Youth.
“Kids are amazing,” said the newest member of LCC’s tennis staff, (seen in photo at left when she played for Notre Dame).
“They are so imaginative and creative, always thinking up new games to play, ways to make tennis more fun, and I just get wrapped up in their world. It shows me the enjoyable, light-hearted side of tennis and it reminds me how and why we fall in love with the game.”
A native Californian, former University of Notre Dame tennis star and budding professional tennis player, Robinson – also a volunteer assistant coach at Texas Tech – coaches all age and skill-set levels at The Club and is happy to adapt her coaching methods to the needs of each individual.
“Some people, whether kids or adults, just want to have fun, play more, see how many balls they can hit into the basket,” she said. “Some teens have aspirations to play in college. And there are adults who just like to exercise, or maybe work on their doubles games. So it’s a blend, a lot of diversity and never dull.”
Born and raised in Valley Center, Calif. (45 minutes north of San Diego), Robinson began her love affair with tennis relatively late, at age 11, after having played soccer, softball and basketball.
“My parents took me to a youth clinic,” she recalled on the phone from a professional tennis tournament in Arizona. “I really liked the self-reliance aspect of tennis, that there is no one to blame but yourself. And the other sports I’d played developed my hand-eye coordination, my footwork and my will to win. I’ve always loved competition.”
As she improved and began playing in national tournaments in search of a national ranking that would attract college recruiters, she enrolled at Oasis High School, an independent school that permitted her to travel and study on a more flexible schedule.
For college, she selected Notre Dame, “for its tradition, spirit and historic feel. You walk around campus and everybody is really happy to be there. It was something different from what I was used to, an incredible school.”
In her senior season at Notre Dame, Robinson was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Second Team, All-ACC Academic Team and was the ITA Midwest Region Most Improved Player.
She received two of Notre Dame Athletics' most prestigious honors, the Byron V. Kanaley Award and Francis Patrick O'Connor Award, and became the first Notre Dame women’s tennis player to win the National Intercollegiate Tennis Assn./Arthur Ashe, Jr., Sportsmanship & Leadership Award.
Robinson embarked on her pro career after graduating last May with a double major in marketing and Spanish.
She started playing lower-level tournaments in Belgium, Ireland and South Africa in search of a ranking in the Women’s Tennis Association, which she earned last fall.
“Getting ranked is a grind,” she said, “but I was determined.”
In the midst of her rankings quest, Coach Todd Petty at Texas Tech – who tried to recruit Robinson while she was in high school and had followed her Notre Dame career – invited her to fill the volunteer assistant slot for the women’s tennis team.
“It was a great opportunity for me,” she said, “not just to work with the girls on the team but to train and have access to Tech’s training room, physical therapy and rehab facilities, because for a while my shoulder was really hurting.”
And because Petty knew Mel McRee, LCC’s director of tennis, Robinson was able to join The Club’s staff to work with students and earn money to help pay for her professional tennis travel expenses. (She also has a GoFundMe page to help in that regard.)
“I really like it here,” Robinson said of her life in Lubbock, which is “very different” from both Southern California and the upper Midwest – “and that’s O.K.”
Her schedule, busy as it is, is also flexible enough so she can engage in her passion for drawing and writing children’s books.
“You Are One in a Chameleon,” a youth-oriented takeoff on animals and puns is available on Amazon.
“When you travel, you wait around a lot in airports,” she said, “so that’s where I daydream to come up with ideas for kids’ books.”
This spring, she’ll be in China and perhaps India, seeking to improve her WTA ranking, as well as seeing a new part of the world, one of the joys of her tennis career.
“I love tennis, both the game and the opportunities it provides to see the world, to experience new cultures. I’ve always loved that, seeing myself in other people’s shoes; it helps me appreciate and understand so much more about life.”
Monica Robinson is a happy young woman.
“Every hour, I have purpose. Life is never boring,” she said.