Men’s tennis thriving under Woodson’s guidance

Interim head coach Michael Woodson throws a fist in celebration during Baylor's match against TCU earlier this spring at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Jarrod Leicher | Reporter

Michael Woodson has been in this position before.

At the start of the 2020-2021 tennis season, Woodson was promoted to interim head coach of the Baylor men’s tennis team, a spot he’d held during Baylor’s previous coaching transition after the departure of former head coach Matt Knoll. He had served as assistant coach to Knoll before being promoted to associate head coach after the arrival of Brian Boland.

Usually, coaching changes can change the way the entire program is run and affect the players, but the consistency the Bears have under Woodson has been a benefit for the team this season. Senior Constantin Frantzen said it wasn’t hard adjusting to the change.

“The transitioning was pretty easy because Coach Mike and me arrived on the same day my freshman year,” Frantzen said. “It wasn’t like a big difference to me.”

Baylor has had a stand-out season under Woodson, ranked No. 2 nationally with a 16-2 record so far this season and less than a month until conference play starts. But Woodson gives a lot of the credit this season to his staff and players, who also had to deal with the coaching change along with the abrupt end to last year’s season.

“I think it’s less about me and more about how the staff around me has stepped up and how well the players have handled the transition,” Woodson said. “It’s been very rewarding and made my life a lot easier … Being a part of Baylor athletics is such an honor. I think our guys over time have really bought into the idea of becoming a champion for life.”

Woodson has been around tennis his whole life. After wrapping up a three-year college tennis career for Valparaiso in 2012, he joined the Crusaders’ coaching staff, where he spent the next four years as an assistant and eventually became the associate head coach. Woodson then joined the Bears in 2016, making an immediate impact during Baylor’s 17th Sweet 16 postseason appearance.

Now temporarily at the helm of the Baylor program, Woodson is optimistic about the chance of finally donning the head coach title, but said nothing was concrete.

“The administration has been extremely supportive of me throughout this entire process. We’ve talked a lot about working through this year, and then we’ll get together at the end of the season and work towards something long term,” Woodson said. “I’m certainly very happy. My wife and kids love it here in Waco and would love to be here for a lot longer.”

Woodson and the Bears will head to College Station on Thursday to face No. 12 Texas A&M at the Mitchell Tennis Center.