Simon Thibodeau enters his third season as the women's tennis assistant coach at Arizona. His responsibilities include recruiting, admissions and player development.
A native of Montreal, Canada, Thibodeau graduated from the University of Sherbrooke in 1997, with a degree in specialized sports science. While at Sherbrooke, he fostered his passion for the game by working as a national coach for Canadian junior tennis. His duties with the federation included supervising training camps and coaching members of the national junior team. His position also involved extensive travel around the world which has given him great knowledge about the international junior circuit.
The transition to the collegiate level has been a bit of an eye opener. The ever present negative stigma attached to college tennis is what he hopes to reverse.
"I want to change the perception that college tennis cannot prepare a student-athlete for professional competition," Thibodeau said. "College is an incredible opportunity to further one's academic instruction and to maximize his or her potential as a tennis player."
Thibodeau believes that the independence afforded to college students allows them to develop focus and a motivation to learn and grow. "Tennis is an individual sport, but the collegiate game encourages a team atmosphere that is invaluable, he added. "The team spirit adds a new dimension to the personal growth of the individual."
In addition to his coaching experience, Simon's expertise in health science has proven to be an added dimension for the Arizona program. He possesses an extensive knowledge of physical conditioning, sport psychology and nutrition.
"As a coach, you have to understand several aspects of the mind and body. Setting up a nutrition regimen and conditioning program that will enable the players to peak at the end of the year is a primary focus of the coaching staff," he said. The mental health of the players is equally important and will be addressed and monitored throughout the season."
An experienced player himself, Thibodeau knows what it takes to win on the tennis court and is excellent at adapting different strategies for each individual student-athlete.
"Simon is one of the best at asking the most of his players while simutanously showing support and empathy for the given circumstances in their lives. He is a passionate coach who is constantly pondering every aspect of what he can to make the program better," said head coach Vicky Maes. "From a recruiting standpoint, Simon has many connections around the world from coaching the Canadian national teams. In today's college tennis these connections are invaluable. His efforts made a great impact on current Arizona players."
In predicting the future of UA tennis, Simon says: "I think that we're going to be a tough team to beat this year. We a very well-balanced group. I don't think we'll have to rely on two to three players to get the job done. We feel confident that we are able to win at every position in our lineup."