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Coaching perfect fit for ex-tennis star

Published April 22, 2007


When Shawn Heinchon Thom Howard/SW Louisiana was one of Florida's top junior players in the 1980s, he had no thoughts of becoming a college tennis coach.

Instead Heinchon dreamed of being a world-class tennis pro after a college career.

Heinchon, 36, has spent the past 10 years at the Division I coaching level and is in his third year as East Carolina men's coach.

"As a junior player, we're all driven by dreams of the professional aspect of tennis," Heinchon said. "When I got out of college in 1993, I played a little in Europe. I wandered around a bit until I saw how well some of my friends were doing in tennis and that drew my back."

In 1998, Heinchon was hired as the men's assistant coach at Wake Forest. During that time, the squad collected 79 dual match wins, including three over top-10 opponents. The Demon Deacons reached the NCAA Tournament four consecutive seasons.

For his efforts, Heinchon was named Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002. That same year, Heinchon was a finalist for National ITA Assistant Coach of the Year.

"Having been a player, it helped me better understand how to help players deal with failure," Heinchon said. "Helping 18- to 20-year-olds get over the humps and to learn how to deal with failure is an important part of coaching."

Heinchon's philosophy of coaching evolved over the years as he came to learn that for every 10 players on a team there are 10 personalities with 10 unique ways of doing something.

"As a college coach, I have a chance to see the players at a unique time in their lives," Heinchon said. "When I am recruiting them, I look for good foot speed, passion, athletic ability, competitiveness and, most importantly, desire. I am most proud of the individuals that have finished school. It's too easy to forget that."

Since taking on the head coach reins, Heinchon led the squad to a 10-13 record this year, compared to 8-13 last season.

BASEBALL: Junior Kyle Albright (Seminole/Pasco Hernando CC) drove in two runs for Embry-Riddle in its 9-3 win over conference foe Northwood. The infielder is averaging .357 at the plate with 42 RBIs.

- In a 12-6 Barry win over Eckerd this month, leadoff hitter Nick Shaw (Northeast) recorded three runs, one hit and an RBI. The freshman is averaging .258.

- Barry freshman Joey Tribou (Northeast) scored a run and had two hits in the win over Eckerd. Tribou is averaging .246.

SOFTBALL: In last month's Polk CC Tournament, freshman catcher Maggie Allen (Gibbs) was 2-for-3 with three runs scored for Seminole CC against St. Claire CC.

BASKETBALL: Freshman Jalissa Foster (Pinellas Park) played in all 29 games for Flagler and was third in rebounds (145). In a 75-72 win over Johnson and Wales, Foster scored 13 with eight rebounds.

GYMNASTICS: California junior Colin Christ (East Lake) earned his third All-America recognition at the NCAA Championships where he was third on parallel bars with a career-best score of 9.475. Christ was second on the high bar for the Golden Bears.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

[Last modified April 21, 2007, 20:27:11]

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