By Dan Johnson, ITA Director of Communications & Marketing
Following a 30-year absence, Angelo State University has brought back its women’s tennis program, which will begin competition on the Division II in the Fall of 2017.
"We are excited to be starting women's tennis at Angelo State," Angelo State athletic director James Reid said. "Tennis was a logical choice for us as something we've had a history with and it was a good fit in the Lone Star Conference being able to compete for a conference championship right away. We feel we will have great support for tennis in the San Angelo community."
Leading the charge for the Rams is Chris Bizot, who spent the past 12 years at UT Tyler, where he compiled an impressive 400-153 record, 16 Conference championships and 17 NCAA Division III Championships appearances while coaching both the men’s and women’s teams.
"When looking at coaches, we really wanted a coach who had experience in all facets of running a tennis program as well as someone who has been successful,” said Reid. “When we ran across Chris's resume, he just fit all the categories we were looking for and the icing on the cake was that he has been extremely successful. We feel like we have hit a home run here, because we know he's a guy who's going to be able to come in and get the program moving in the right direction. He has won multiple championships with both teams and individuals and he plans on being successful and competitive right away. We are extremely excited about adding him to our staff and what he will bring to the new women's tennis program.”
Bizot, the 2008 and 2012 ITA West Region Coach of the Year, recently spoke with the ITA on his move from UT Tyler to Angelo State.
Question: What was the motivation for you to make the move to Angelo State?
Answer: There were quite a few things that factored into the decision. The administration at Angelo was excited and supportive and happy to have tennis back. The last several years at UT Tyler, I coached both the men’s and women’s teams and was an Assistant AD. Now, I have a better work-life balance with only one team, so I can be more of a dad now. On the tennis side of it, being able to put your personal stamp on something is unique and I’m looking forward to the opportunity. As tennis coaches and enthusiasts, our job is to grow the game, and I’m excited I can do that here at Angelo.
Q: I’d imagine you have a lot to do. How do you prioritize?
A: Everything is a priority right now (laughs). We want to field a competitive team, but more than that, we don’t have any tennis balls or baskets, so it’s all the little things that go into putting a program and team together that we’re also having to do.
Q: Seeing the commitment Angelo State is making to tennis, how exciting is that?
A: I think it’s unbelievably exciting. The biggest problem we have is losing membership at schools. We are fortunate that in the last few years, there have been places that have brought back and reinstated tennis programs. It’s an exciting time for Angelo State, but also for college tennis to have something positive happening.
Q: What’s been the response from the local community, and how to do you get them excited about the tennis program returning?
A: San Angelo is a great tennis community and the local clubs have been very welcoming and are on-board with the process. There’s a lot of opportunities to engage with the local clubs, schools and kids in the area. It’ll progress over time as soon as I have a team. Once you have members that love tennis and they meet the team and see what they are doing on the court and what they’re majoring in, it kind of takes off from there.
Q: Moving from Division III to Division II, do you foresee many changes in terms of your daily operations as a coach?
A: I’ll have more time with the student-athletes, which will be exciting, and I have scholarships to work with now, so that’ll be a whole different animal. Our approach at Tyler was to compete for a national title each day, and that will be our approach here.