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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Brooks gears up for assistant women’s tennis coach position

Texas+State+Assistant+Tennis+Coach+Kendall+Brooks+shares+a+handshake+with+her+players+at+Bobcat+Tennis+Complex.

Texas State Assistant Tennis Coach Kendall Brooks shares a handshake with her players at Bobcat Tennis Complex.

After serving as a volunteer coach for a year, Kendall Brooks prepares to drive and improve Texas State’s Division I women’s tennis program as its 2021-22 assistant head coach.
Before Brooks arrived at Texas State, she spent seven years as the head women’s tennis coach of Division II St. Edwards University, sporting a 96-50 career record. In 2019, she led the team to play a Heartland Conference Regular Season Championship, secured an appearance at the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 and earned the school’s highest national ranking at No. 16.
In 2020, the team had a 6-1 record before the remainder of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the program’s competitive success, on April 15, 2020, St. Edwards discontinued women’s tennis, along with five other sports, citing financial restraints brought on by the pandemic. This left Brooks jobless.
“It felt terrible,” Brooks says. “It was rough, it was really hard. Obviously, it had nothing to do with the success or the non-success of the program. It was all a financial decision made by the university. To have come off the best year we ever had … it was heartbreaking. I was heartbroken for my team, the alumni that now, technically, have no home.”
Having coached at St. Edwards since 2013, it was difficult for Brooks to adjust to life jobless. Trying to find a job during the early months of the pandemic proved even harder.
“It was a tough transition at a difficult time, to lose my job and, more importantly, the program I had worked so hard to build,” Brooks says. “We had really made ourselves a Division II powerhouse … It was a weird time during [COVID-19]. There weren’t a lot of job opportunities right away … Luckily, I was able to take some time to figure out what the next move would be.”
During that time, Brooks earned income by offering private tennis lessons. However, those lessons did not fulfill her the same way coaching did. She often found herself at home, taking care of her infant son while also enduring financial struggles.
“That was a dark time,” Brooks says. “I’m used to being really busy and really involved, and this is the prime part of our season. It was really hard for me because I need to feel a part of something, so I was floundering for a bit … It was a hard couple of months just not really knowing what was gonna happen … We had just sold our house and were in the process of buying a new one, so we were kind of homeless for a while. It was a tough couple of months, for sure, but we were able to make it through.”
In hopes of continuing her career coaching college tennis, she called Texas State Head Coach Tory Plunkett, who Brooks had known since 2006 when she was an assistant coach at Texas Tech. Although Texas State’s assistant coach spot was filled at the time, Plunkett offered Brooks an unpaid, volunteer position.
“I reached out to her and said, ‘Look, I wanna be involved,’” Brooks said. “‘I’m not sure what’s gonna happen, but I’d love to help and just stay in college tennis.’ She said, ‘Sure. Come on out,’ and really welcomed me with open arms and trusted me … It was really humbling for her to take me in an insane time.”
On Sept. 10, 2020, Texas State announced Brooks would come on board as a volunteer coach. Even though the position was unpaid, she felt fortunate to be on a team where she could build new relationships.
“Being a part of something just grounds you, a little bit,” Brooks says. “I’m just used to having those relationships and interactions with people on a daily basis … It was nice to just connect with people and interact with the team and the coaching staff … It was definitely a perfect opportunity.”
Senior tennis player Rishona Lewis is grateful for Brooks’ easy-going approach, which has fostered a comfortable coach-player relationship throughout the team.
“I talk to her literally about everything whether we’re off the court or on the court,” Lewis says. “I think the girls on the team feel like she’s approachable. She’s not gonna judge them for whatever they may be dealing with.”
The level of comfort Brooks creates with the team also translates into her coaching style, being able to lighten the mood even during the heat of competition.
“If I feel like I’m not playing well, or if I’m struggling a bit, she’ll come on court and either crack a joke or say something funny just to get my mind off of everything,” Lewis says. “It’s really easy to get into a mood and just kind of have tunnel vision. Whenever she comes on the court, it just lifts the mood, a little bit.”
The Bobcats finished the 2020-21 season 6-13 overall and 0-7 in the Sun Belt. At the end of the season, the former assistant coach stepped down, opening up the spot for new applicants. This left Brooks as the natural choice for the promotion, which she officially received on June 7.
For the majority of her career, Plunkett has been the lone figure of authority, with only three assistants in her almost 18 years as head coach. Going into her 19th season, she believes adding Brooks to the team will ensure good leadership and create a welcoming environment for players.
“[Brooks] brings a lot more solitude, a lot more positivity,” Plunkett says. “That brings a lot more confidence within the players. She’s closer in age to the players and can get to know them a lot easier … They look at her more as an older sister, where I’m the mother or the grandmother … Coach Brooks took a lot of that responsibility and allowed me to be a better coach. It allowed the players to be better players.”
Plunkett plans to retire in the near future. Although she aims to coach side-by-side with Brooks this upcoming season, she believes Brooks’ recruitment connections, as well as her connection with the team, makes her a viable candidate for the head coach job.
“She has a lot of recruiting connections here in the United States,” Plunkett says. “That exposure just doubled, so that’s awesome for the program … The Texas State tennis program is very, very, very fortunate to have Coach Brooks … I think that’s gonna provide a great opportunity for the tennis program to be very, very, very successful this year and in the future.”
If the opportunity presents itself, Brooks says she would want to step up as the team’s next head coach, making Texas State home.
“I could see myself calling Texas State home for a long time, if it worked out that way.”

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