Some coaching hires can be a headache. Others just seem to fall into place.
That was the case for Tristan Venables, who was hired last month as assistant coach for the LSU women’s tennis team. Venables spent the last two seasons as a volunteer coach with the Georgia men’s tennis team, and coach Julia Sell called the hire one of the easiest she’s made.
“There were a lot of people after him,” Sell said. “The summertime is when jobs open and everybody’s circulating. He was in a volunteer position, so he was looking to get in, and he wants to be a head coach. But once I started speaking with him and our mutual friends, he was on board pretty quickly.”
Sell and Venables hadn’t met prior to the hiring, but they had similar expectations and goals for the program.
“I had the opportunity to work with two great coaches in [volunteer coach Michael Sell] and Julia Sell,” Venables said. “I just knew it was a great opportunity as well. The program is in a great spot to move up and do some successful things to be up there with the rest of the LSU sports.”
Venables helped guide Georgia to the Southeastern Conference regular season championship and a No. 9 final ranking in 2014. He worked under legendary coach Manuel Diaz, whose teams have won four national championships in the last 15 years.
The Perth, Australia, native coached for 13 years at Wembley Downs Tennis Club and was captain of the National League Finals team at the 2012 Australian Open.
“Tristan’s already been in a system where he knows what it takes to be the best, to produce players that go on to be successful after college, and that’s what we’ve set up here,” Sell said. “As far as his mentality, to me it was kind of a perfect fit for what we’re doing here.”
The Lady Tigers greatly improved last season, going 14-14 and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. Junior Ella Taylor said adding Venables to LSU’s already experienced coaching staff will help the team progress.
Venables said he’s looking forward to the challenge of switching from the men’s to women’s game.
“The men will play a little bit more heavy spin and with bigger serves,” Venables said. “The serve is definitely a bigger part of the game, and the return. The women’s game is definitely hard-hitting and very physical, there’s just a little bit less spin and angles.”
Though Venables is known for his player development skills, Sell said his role as mentor will be a valuable asset to LSU.
“On the court and off the court, I try to offer the same kind of thing,” Venables said. “I try to teach players good habits on and off the court, direct their lives and help them progress a little quicker.”