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Alex Kasarov hired as Brown men's tennis head coach

Kasarov talks recruitment, goals in new coaching role

Alex Kasarov was named men's tennis head coach Sept. 30 following former head coach Tim Gray’s departure after four years leading the program. Kasarov’s appointment took effect Nov. 2. 

Kasarov spent two seasons as associate head coach at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He accumulated 12 years of coaching experience with stints at Davidson College, Northwestern University, Monmouth University and various clubs. Kasarov left Monmouth after an 18-0 conference record, having led them to the NCAA championship competitions every year. To welcome Coach Kasarov to campus, he has been selected for this edition of The Herald’s Coaches Corner.

The Herald: What do you expect to be the starkest contrast between coaching in the Big Ten and coaching in the Ivy League?

Coach Kasarov: There are already a lot of differences. In regard to recruiting, for example, in the Ivies there are no athletic scholarships. At Wisconsin, and at a couple (other places I’ve coached), we've got athletic scholarships to work with. But once I settle in and find the types of recruits that fit the profile that we’re looking for to join this program — not only on the court, but off the court in the community — I think things will be going great for us.

Pre-pandemic, you were known for having developed a video analysis technique for scouts who could not see a recruit in person. Will the pandemic’s postponement of all in-person recruiting cement film submissions as a permanent alternative to in-person visits? 

A lot of coaches had been utilizing video already, even when things were “normal.” But I actually think the virtual aspect of how things are being done now, with evaluating student athletes and prospects (entirely) online, has created a little bit more of a challenge. It's a little bit different seeing someone play on a recorded match, or even a (virtual) live match, versus being there in person. But we’re living through this time and everyone is doing their best to adjust. We’ll do what we can to ensure that the prospects that we're communicating with are the right athletes, but also fit the character that we're looking for on our team.

What makes someone the right athlete for Brown University Men’s Tennis?

Somebody that has a strong academic profile, obviously. Yes, someone who is passionate about tennis, but who also has interests outside of tennis as well. We’ll really take more of a holistic approach to recruiting and evaluating our prospects. It cannot be all about tennis. Looking for prospects who have balance in their life is important. They should definitely love to play, be competitive and possess a strong work ethic. But they also need to want to be (a part of this community). To recruit people who will be proud to represent Brown and feel honored to wear the Brown name on their chest when they are out competing is very important to us.

In the spirit of that holistic approach, what are some of your interests outside of tennis?

During the last few months, I've picked up carpentry. There has been no shortage of projects from my wife. So, it's been a fun little side passion of mine. Back in Wisconsin I converted our basement into a classroom for the two oldest kids after the pandemic caused us to decide to try homeschooling. My wife made that project possible with her imagination and planning. We also built a chicken coop in the backyard, so that was great fun for the kids to raise a few chickens right out back. We’ve just been here two weeks, so I don’t know what we’re going to build here, but we’ll see.

 How are you maintaining strong bonds within the team as you manage pandemic-related complications on top of this mid-year leadership change?

Our number one priority is to offer as much support to our student-athletes as we can. We’re here to help them with anything that we possibly can in these challenging and uncertain times. If we are given a green light and there is a season, we will be ready and we'll make the most out of the opportunity. But in the meantime, we'll try to do our best to support every student athlete with whatever they need, not only from an athletic standpoint, but also academically, and with anything that they may need. We've been doing a little bit of Zoom, just like every other team. This being my second week, I've been in touch with each of the guys individually to see where they are with their academics and what their home situations are. Everybody has a setup that is working for them, but it’s still definitely a challenge. I would love nothing more than to have the whole team back together on campus in early January.

What are the long-term goals for your coaching career at Brown? 

Well, obviously we would love to win the Ivy League Championship, be an NCAA participant and we’d like to see where things take us once we are in the single elimination competitions. Once we get back to normal, we'll be building towards those goals and having our guys represent Brown in the right light while we do it, with a lot of pride whenever they step on the court.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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