Gold in Them Hills
“I care how you do here, I want you to succeed.” It’s something you hear often if you play tennis at Piedmont College. Coach Trey Martin has a style some might call low key or laid back or friendly, and it’s all those things. But don’t let that fool you. Underneath that easy grin and gentle ribbing there’s a passion to win, a drive to take a group of girls and turn them into a powerhouse of Division III sports. There’s every bit the intensity of a drill sergeant, but without the bite. It’s “not just about X’s and O’s,” he says. Coaching is about “getting involved with players and seeing where each one is coming from, finding out what makes a player tick.” Not long ago, Coach Martin was on the receiving end of tennis instruction at Piedmont, having played here as an undergraduate. When a spot opened on the staff, he jumped at the chance to try his own hand at molding a team. He’s only been at the helm a few years but one thing is clear. He has a vision.
It all began in middle school when his seventh-grade math teacher recruited him for a tennis team. “I said what the heck,” and gave it a try. Middle school lead to high school and before he knew it, Martin was hooked. He still played basketball, cross country, and golf, but tennis became his passion. He cranked through some winning seasons and landed on the Piedmont roster. His style is simple, never say die. He likes grinders, players who refuse to give up and are willing to do whatever it takes to win a point. “I watch Nadal and think, what an animal, he never quits. I like that.” Coach Martin tries to instill that same desire in his players because he believes competition is “90% mental.” It all begins with “wanting to win,” the rest is just details.
He’s living proof his theory works. He’s the only tennis coach in collegiate history who’s never had a lesson. Hard work was his only teacher. But the most important thing he learned about winning came from Coach Wood at Piedmont, his favorite coach who lived what he taught. “He showed me to be a people person. He showed that to win you have to care. That’s what comes first.” So that’s what Coach Martin does. He cares. Every player at Piedmont knows Coach Martin isn’t just about tennis, he’s about helping players become the best they can be, not only on the court, but off. He stands behind players who get injured, he helps with rehab, he checks on their classes. It’s what makes a team a family.
“I wish more junior players going through the ranks would realize that DIII
is still strong tennis, and you can have fun and play extremely competitive matches without having to go through the agony of playing D1.”