OHIO CITY, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Tennis program has a new leader, as Matt Weiss has been named the program's next head coach for the upcoming 2023 season. Weiss most recently was the Head Tennis Coach at Huron High School, where he led the Tigers to an 18-0 record in 2021 and the program's first conference title in 18 years. Weiss hopes to carry that success as he comes to Saint Ignatius.
"My excitement level is high; I coached many of these guys during the offseason," explains Weiss. "I just came from coaching at Huron and we had a lot of success there and I want to build a dynasty for Saint Ignatius Tennis."
Weiss has found a passion for coaching tennis and is a full-time tennis trainer at Paramount Tennis Club in Westlake. Weiss already has built a solid foundation with current student-athletes at Saint Ignatius, which will bode well when the season begins in the spring. When Weiss took over the boy's tennis program in Huron, the team did not have much experience, but he made the sport fun for the student-athletes and went undefeated in 2020.
"Going undefeated was exciting. You have to make the kids love the sport," Weiss says. "None of the kids played tennis before and they came out and had fun, bringing out the success."
Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 notes the importance of Weiss' experience to the Saint Ignatius Tennis program. "What is great about Matt is he has experience at the high school level," says Fitzpatrick. "He is a teaching pro with experience with high school students, which is unique. He has great character and I believe he will fit well at Saint Ignatius High School."
For Weiss, his passion for tennis was delayed as he didn't begin playing until his high school career at Perkins High School in Sandusky. Weiss' sport of choice early on was hockey but saw he had talent on the tennis courts. "I used to play triple-A ice hockey and when I started playing tennis, it was just for fun when I got to high school," Weiss explains. "I played with the junior Barons in Cleveland and eventually transitioned into tennis. I loved the one-on-one aspect of the game and it was a great stress relief."
His high school career would lead him to the college level, where Weiss competed at Tiffin University. After graduating, Weiss continued to build his knowledge of the sport, earning his first coaching position in 2015 for the girl's Tennis team at Mayfield High School. Weiss would take the Wildcats to their first Conference Championship in over a decade and was named Western Reserve Conference Coach of the Year.
"Starting at 15 in the game, I had to grow my knowledge of the game through YouTube and find different techniques that would work," says Weiss. "I think that helps with coaching because I can relate to the kids just now getting into the sport. I have found a strategy that has worked and I am great at communicating with the kids and keeping the morale high."
With his success in coaching, Weiss was recruited to Florida to work as a private coach and tennis professional, where he would teach top juniors at Delray Beach Tennis Center and The Evert Academy. After gaining that experience, Weiss moved back to Ohio in 2020 and will take over a Saint Ignatius program with a rich history, however, has never won a team State Championship. The program has one Individual State Champion in Nate Griffin '15, which came in the 2014 season.
"We have a decent history with our Tennis program; there have been strong teams in the past," says Fitzpatrick. "He wants to create a consistently top-ranked program and he has the opportunity to do that here. He has coached in the area and sees a huge upside to coaching at Saint Ignatius."
As Weiss takes the reins of the program has his sight set on what he wants the program to become under his leadership. "My goal is to build this program up and win State Championships."