“Another year, another coach” seems to be the theme for Emerson’s men’s and women’s tennis teams, which have each had four and five leaders since 2013, respectively. The latest is Daniel Munsey, who said he hopes to break that streak.
The 31-year-old Munsey was hired by the college in December to head both units, replacing Collin Hyte as the men’s head coach and bumping Paola Cigui to associate head coach of the women’s team, her original role upon being brought on.
The move marks the first ever full-time head coach in either program’s history. Freshman women’s tennis player Lalin Tasa said she was delighted when she heard about the hiring.
“I thought Emerson wanted to improve the tennis team,” Tasa, a communication studies major, said. “Last year we were just a small team that people didn’t put too much emphasis on.”
Munsey said he knows how essential having the free hours that come with full-time status is when trying to prepare for matches on top of recruiting new players.
“[Emerson has] had a lot of part-time coaches, which can be really challenging when you have a full-time job and are also trying to compete with a conference full of full-time coaches,” Munsey said. “So this was a special opportunity to take Emerson and make it competitive and make it one of the stronger teams in the [New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference].”
Having only been in the office for a little over a month, Munsey said he is just beginning to lay the groundwork for both teams.
“I’m just getting acquainted with the players on the teams and introducing them to my philosophies, my team expectations as a coach, and getting everybody on the same page,” Munsey said.
Munsey said he has picked up bits and pieces from everywhere he has been to form his own style.
“My overall philosophy as a coach is to motivate these players and create an environment that makes them want to succeed for the team,” Munsey said. “It’s all about the team. I’m always going to be honest with my players.”
The men play in the spring and will begin their season on March 20, when they travel to Wheelock College. Junior men’s tennis player Samir Beria said Munsey’s coaching style is already paying dividends.
“During practice, he will take everyone out individually and tell them a small tip or a small trick,” Beria, a marketing communication major, said. “You can then see that person improve.”
Munsey said before he had the chance to meet his athletes, he began to wonder what the dedication would be like, how badly each individual wanted to improve, and how big a priority tennis was to them. So far, everyone has exceeded expectations, according to Munsey.
“I didn’t know what to expect in the beginning,” Munsey said. “When you have a new group of players, you don’t know what the commitment level is or the type of guys you have on the team. But after our first three weeks of practices, I could not be more excited.”
As strange as it was for Munsey to join a group of individuals he had never met, he said he knows it works both ways.
“As a player, you’re familiar with a coach, and now, someone brand new is coming in,” Munsey said. “And that’s part of the reason I was so excited and happy with the way things are going. We’ve really gelled together quickly, and I think they’ve embraced some of the things I do as a coach, and I’ve really bought into what we’re trying to do.”
Munsey spent the past four seasons coaching the Assumption College men’s and women’s tennis teams after dedicating the previous two years to coaching the women’s tennis team at conference rival Clark University. While at Assumption, he won Northeast-10 Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year in 2015. Sophomore men’s tennis player Matt Jepsky said Munsey’s experience should benefit his team immensely.
“Dan’s got a great track record,” Jepsky, a visual and media arts major, said. “He has coaching experience in the NEWMAC. He brings a lot of experience to the team, not just coaching—but also in tennis.”
Growing up, baseball was actually Munsey’s top sport before attending Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire, where he was a four-year varsity tennis player and two-year captain. It was his own time playing at the collegiate level, along with growing up in Arlington, Massachusetts, that made Emerson a perfect fit.
“I played Division III athletics myself,” Munsey said. “I came from a Division II school myself—Assumption College. I’ve always had the Division III mindset and mentality and kind of the full student-athlete experience. When this opportunity opened up for me, it was just the right fit for me as a coach.”
Beria said Munsey’s skill on the court has already rubbed off on him.
“My serve has gotten much better just from [him] looking at me and fixing my form,” Beria said. “It is the same thing with my forehand and backhand.”
While Munsey isn’t on the court, he said he enjoys spending time with his four-year-old daughter and also completes in a slow-pitch softball league.
As for his new gig, Munsey said he is optimistic for what the future will bring.
“It’s been great to get to meet the players and get to work with them,” Munsey said. “You can feel the momentum building throughout the whole department.”