Prep coach hangs up racquet |

Prep coach hangs up racquet

In high school sports, coaches come and go, but very few are as valuable as Park City High School tennis coach Warren Pretorius. Resigning as one of the winningest coaches in Park City history, Pretorius will step down this month to pursue other career interests.

Pretorius first took on the Miners program in 1998. He remembers that at the time, just talking the handful of boys on the team into traveling for away matches was a challenge. It was then he threw himself completely into regenerating interest and energy in the program and coached the boys to an even 7-7 record that season. The program continued to grow gradually the following year, but the team struggled with a 6-7 losing season.

Then in 2001, everything changed. As numbers and excitement about the program grew, so too did the quality of the tennis being played. That season, the Miners turned the program around, going 15-0 and winning both the region and state championships. They followed suit the next year with a 13-1 record and a second-place finish at the state finals. In 2002, they were 13-1 again and took third at state.

In 2003, the Pretorius dynasty officially took hold. The quality of the junior programs at the Park City Racquet Club began consistently feeding the program some of the best tennis talent in the state and Intermountain region. Between 2003 and 2006, the Miners went 67-1, won every region and state championship and developed numerous state champions. Top players were consistently ranked by the United States Tennis Association and scheduling talented teams for the boys became difficult for Pretorius. He remembers regularly scheduling top schools with student bodies far bigger that that of Park City. Still, the Miners would beat these teams in straight sets, often only allowing their opponents one point in the match.

"The credit really goes to the kids that you work with," Pretorius said.

Yet, even with this unprecedented success, Pretorius felt that this season was the time to step down. Last spring, he resigned as the head tennis professional at the Park City Racquet Club after taking a job with Dartfish, a video analysis software company. In the months following, Pretorius took on accounts in the Intermountain West, New England and other parts of the East Coast as well as South Africa. Pretorius, who is the regional director for the company, is traveling extensively to hire managers on the East Coast to allow him more time at home. He knew the extra travel time would mean less time spent with the tennis team, so after careful deliberation, Pretorius reluctantly decided that it was time to step down.

"I didn’t think it was fair to not give 100 percent," Pretorius said.

Pretorius’ new career has also limited his own time on the court playing and competing. He is hopeful that after this spring, he can return to teaching and playing.

"My priorities are families and then career," Pretorius said. "I will take care of those two things and see what happens."

Besides coaching a winning program, Pretorius is also sad to leave the personal side of the job. In the last nine years, he says that he has developed a father-like or mentoring role in the lives of many of his past players. He says that he is often receiving phone calls from former team members asking for advice, updating him on their lives or just calling for a long chat.

"That’s one of the things I relish," Pretorius said. "I hope they keep in contact."

Pretorius will attend the first team and parents meeting in order to formally step down and answer any and all questions at the time. He still plans to attend as many matches as possible during the high school season and will be on-hand for help and advice for the new coaching staff.

"I’m going to miss it," Pretorius said. "I’ve spent so much time developing this program."

He is confident that the success of the program will continue even after he has gone as younger kids look to carry on the legacy.

"Even the younger kids now are looking at this," Pretorius said. "I think everything we’ve done will keep moving forward."

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