By Chris Beck
Photo by Daniel Gaona
As the Pima Community College men’s tennis team earned its place at nationals, head coach Sharif Moustafa was named coach of the year in the Arizona region.
Originally born in Minnesota, Moustafa moved to Arizona as a child and quickly picked up tennis. Even from a young age, it was clear that the game was his calling.
“I was recruited to go to Phoenix when I was 16 to play for a junior tennis program,” Moustafa said. “I was the top-ranked southwest player.”
His skill took him to the University of Arizona, where he played for the tennis team. Unfortunately an injury ended his collegiate career.
Although his career at UA was cut short, his time there proved to be helpful and maybe even critical to his recent coaching success.
“I was coached by guys who coached top-25 players in the world,” Moustafa said. “I was very fortunate to have them as head coaches.”
While the 2010 season was his first at PCC, Moustafa had plenty of coaching experience before he arrived on campus.
He served as head pro at Club Yuma Fitness Center and as a pro for the Ron Smith Tennis Academy in Tucson. He has been a pro at the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club since 2007.
“I had been coaching top juniors in the nation for four years,” Moustafa said. “When I heard the Pima job was open, I felt like I could bring what I knew about the community and what I knew about tennis into Pima and make it a national team.”
After a single season, Moustafa has no doubt achieved his goal. The team will head to Plano, Texas, on May 10-14 to compete for the national title.
In preparations for nationals, Moustafa is putting his team through grueling training in order to stay in top shape. His techniques prove that being coach of the year is not about babying players.
“The kids knew coming in that I was going to be one of the toughest coaches they ever had to face,” Moustafa said. “Especially with nationals coming in, they have been running three miles in the sand every day so I can get them prepared.”
“We are playing in Texas, which has the highest humidity, so I have to be able to strategize and get my players to not cramp out there.”
These strategies, among many others, have boosted PCC onto the national scene and earned Moustafa coach of the year honors. While the league recognizes his coaching excellence, he acknowledges that he could not do it without his players.
“I couldn’t be here without these players,” Moustafa said. “Without their heart and talent and the will that they put in for me. They are the ones, I just assisted them.”
In a single year at Pima, Moustafa has had incredible success with the team and only has higher expectations for seasons to come.
“My future plan is to build Pima to be a top-ranked team nationally,” he said.
Men’s Tennis Nationals lineup
No. 1 Andrew Barnett
No. 2 Alan Barrios
No. 3 David Tellez
No. 4 Default
No. 5 Rafael Sepulveda
No. 6 Matt Lancaster
No. 1 Default
No. 2 Barrios/Sepulveda
No. 3 Lancaster/Tellez