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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.”  

Autobiography

My name is Abbey Grace Venham and I’m a mass communications major and a tennis player at Piedmont college. I’m 18 years old and I’ve lived in Covington, Georgia my entire life with my mom and brother. Covington is a very small town and I went to a fairly small high school called Eastside High School. Most of my life, I’ve dedicated myself to tennis. I played competitive tournaments from the time I was 10 until I was 15 and then I decided I didn’t want to play competitively anymore. I was pushed extremely hard by coaches from various places in Georgia and tennis academy’s in the Athens area. Tennis became more work than play to me, so I took some time off and by the time I was a junior in high school, I was ready to put my skills to use again and try to get into a good school. Luckily, one of my coaches from my competitive days is friends with Trey Martin who is the head women’s tennis coach here at Piedmont. My coach Matt Williams reached out to coach Trey and gave him my name and after seeing Piedmont and meeting my teammates and Trey I knew that this school was perfect for me. The small town feel of Piedmont reminded me of my home town and it gave me lots of hope for my success in the future whereas if I had ended up at a big school, I would get lost on campus! I owe all of my greatest accomplishments and my proudest moments to my family. College tennis and Piedmont wouldn’t be possible for me had it not been for the unconditional support of my entire family. I do everything for my mom, brother, and grandparents. I came out to my family as a freshman in high school and our relationship was rocky for a while. As time went on, each and everyone of my family members not only showed their love and support to me, but their acceptance of who I was. I am extremely blessed to say that I have a family who accepts me and I understand that more than most people considering where I grew up and how my family was brought up and how they raised me. Family is most important to me and always has been. If I could, I would write this entire autobiography about them but that would be way too much for you to read, so I hope you get the gist. I can’t wait to see where the future takes me and I can’t wait to grow as a person here at Piedmont.