Courtesy of Ohio State athletic department
A former Buckeyes men’s tennis player is returning to Ohio State, but this time in a different role.
Bryan Koniecko, a five-time All-American tennis player in college, is returning to OSU as an assistant coach for the women’s tennis team.
Koniecko said it feels strange being back at OSU as a coach, but looks forward to helping the women’s team improve.
“It was weird being back as a coach and not a player,” Koniecko said. “But I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting the women’s side up to the level where the men have been the past few years, and I think we have a great staff for a successful process.”
Koniecko played professionally in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after graduating from OSU, and spent the past two years serving as an assistant coach for the men’s tennis team at Brown University.
Koniecko said coaching at Brown was beneficial and prepared him for his new role as a coach.
“Brown was great in the fact that it was a great learning experience for me,” Koniecko said. “I was able to incorporate a lot of the things I learned over the years, and it was helpful in leading up to a bigger program in Ohio State.”
Melissa Schaub, OSU women’s tennis interim coach, said Koniecko has many characteristics that made him a good fit for the job.
“He knows what Ohio State’s like, what Ohio State has to offer, and he obviously had a great career here,” Schaub said. “He also had experience coaching the last two years, so I think all those made him an ideal fit for the way the program is going.”
Koniecko, who will be paid $43,000 in his new position, according to athletic department spokesman Dan Wallenberg, was a standout player for OSU, being named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Koniecko also led the Buckeyes to Big Ten regular season and tournament titles in each of his four years at OSU. He won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Intercollegiate Indoor singles title, and was ranked No. 1 in the country individually during the 2009 season.
OSU senior women’s tennis player Fidan Manashirova said she believes Koniecko’s positivity and experienced leadership will help the team reach success.
“He’s a very positive, outspoken and observant person,” Manashirova said. “He really pushes us and challenges us, especially when we play each other to get some good match play in.”
She also said it’s easier to relate to a coach who was also a student-athlete at OSU, and had the same experiences not too long ago.
“It’s a lot easier to relate to him because he knows what our lifestyles are like,” Manashirova said. “It means that he really cares about the program because he was a Buckeye here not that many years ago, and he definitely succeeded.”
The women’s team is scheduled to begin play in the Muirfield Collegiate Tennis Invitational this Friday at The Country Club at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.