TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The University of Arizona men’s tennis team has plenty to be excited for next season. Amidst a Pac-10 conference where all other teams will be losing at least two or three contributing players, the Wildcats will be returning nine of their ten. They also have a young coaching staff that will benefit from another year of experience under their belts. In addition, a new volunteer assistant coach will be joining the team, ATP professional Taylor Dent. As Arizona assistant coach Tom Lloyd put it, “That’s right, THE Taylor Dent.”
Tennis fans may recall Dent as one of the young American hopefuls, along with James Blake and Andy Roddick, that was going to sustain the strong tradition of American tennis success after the pending retirement of legendary Pete Sampras. Dent won four ATP titles between 2002 and 2003, finishing the 2003 season with a year-end ranking of 33.
Dent then contacted Lloyd, a good friend and an Arizona alum, and offered him the opportunity to travel with him. With Lloyd as his coach, Dent reached a career high ranking of No. 21 on August 8, 2005.
Just as things began progressing nicely, Dent suffered a major setback, being inactive for most of 2006 with a back injury. Dent’s inability to play gave Lloyd the opportunity to become the assistant coach at Arizona.
On March 19, 2007, Dent underwent back surgery. While he waits to reach a successful recovery, Lloyd extended the invitation to Dent to help out the Arizona program as a volunteer assistant coach. Dent was enthusiastic towards the idea, and is intrigued at working within the team atmosphere that college tennis entails.
“We’re excited to have him,” said Lloyd. “Naturally, the number one priority is his health. We’ll be working around his rehab and playing schedule, but he’s happy to join the program.” Dent is anticipated to join the team during the fall, and other times during the season when his schedule allows for it.
The position is strictly temporary, but should definitely “create a buzz about Arizona tennis and assist with recruiting,” commented Lloyd.
Dent was born in Newport Beach, Calif. on April 24, 1981, and is the son of former Australian Open finalist Phil Dent. He forwent college out of Corona del Mar High School to turn pro. Dent is known as an aggressive serve-and-volleyer with one of the biggest serves on the tour, tying Andy Roddick for the record of fastest serve at 155 mph.