Pacific men’s tennis program ranked nationally after complete culture change

University of the Pacific men's tennis is No. 1 in the WCC as they continue a 14-match winning streak.

University of the Pacific men's tennis is nationally ranked for the first time in eight years.

Not long ago in 2021, the men's tennis program did not have enough student-athletes to play a season.

Three years later, after a total rebuild, the team sits in first place in the West Coast Conference standings and is nationally ranked for the first time since 2016. The Tigers carry an astounding 15-1 record, including 4-0 in the WCC, have won 14 consecutive matches and are ranked No. 47 in the country.

The turnaround comes under the guidance of third-year head coach Robin Goodman, who inherited a team that finished 1-13 the season prior to his arrival.

“My first season we didn’t have enough players and we struggled to get a full roster, leading us to opt out of 2021,” Goodman said. “From there, the focus was getting in the right people while building a team culture the guys could buy into, so that when we did come back, we were stronger and better than before.”

One of the core structural changes was adopting a team-first identity, as tennis is often portrayed as a solitary sport. Goodman had to shift that mindset of his student-athletes, and he drills it into everything they do. From practice to weight training, to cool downs, to analytics, they do everything collectively.

“One of my philosophies when it comes to succeeding at the collegiate level is that we are a team,” Goodman said. “It’s getting them to think through the lens that ‘we have to succeed’ rather than just ‘I have to succeed.’ The best programs tend to be the ones that play together the best and play as a unit.”

He added, “We had to instill in them that you have to think about what you’re doing right now to be the best version of yourself. It’s the daily pursuit of excellence that gets the job done. Once you do that, the outcome follows.”

Another key component was recruiting student-athletes who fit Goodman’s vision.

“I look for the human being first,” Goodman said. “How they communicate, are they grateful and how much do they love tennis. We work hard every day and if you’re not into it, you’re not going to improve. Obviously, we consider talent and certain requirements, but it’s first and foremost who they are as a person.”

Graduate student Manroop Saini started his career with the Tigers in 2020 and remained on the roster prior to Goodman’s arrival. He’s seen the transformation through all phases.

“It was a long journey to get where we are today, but the way we got here is that we found a team identity,” Saini said. “Yes, we have loads of talent on our team but so does every other top program in the country. The boys are so gritty and fully ‘bought in’ to the program. This is a special group of guys. We worked for the success we have today.”

The Tigers broke into the national rankings after defeating No. 13 San Diego last week. It was their first win over the Toreros since rejoining the West Coast Conference in 2013.

Pacific’s .938 winning percentage ranks top five in the nation. The program hasn’t lost a match since January and is a perfect 8-0 at home.

“Getting to see five years of how my team has evolved and what we’ve achieved in my final year is very special. Something I will never forget,” Saini said.

Pacific is looking to top its highest-ever finish of third place in the conference since rejoining the league. The last time the men’s tennis program won a championship was the 2009 Big West Regular Season title.

The Tigers were projected to finish fourth in the West Coast Conference at the start of the season. Their final home match features a No. 42 ranked Pepperdine team coming to the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m. on Senior Day.