New tennis coach sets expectations

Stella Forte (left), and Madelyn Nonni (right)

Ted Panasci, the former tennis coach of Green Mountain College, has taken the head coaching position for the Castleton women’s tennis team. Panasci is a Castleton alum who competed from ‘06-’09 on the men’s tennis team.  

Panasci coached at Green Mountain College from 2010-2018 before it closed. Panasci at that time decided it was best for him to step away from coaching and focus more on his 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. When Castleton’s head coaching position for women’s tennis opened with only a week before the season started, Panasci got a call.  

“Athletic Director Tim Barrett gave me a call, saying hey we need a coach. Of course I gave it some thought and spoke it over with my wife and she told me the kids are old enough now so we can handle this,” Panasci said. “Plus, coaching has always been a passion of mine, so I was really happy to be able to come back to it.”  

Because Panasci has a history with coaching, he has a certain expectation for the way his program should operate. His core values help guide him and his team through the ups and downs of the season, while developing the athlete’s character. 

“I think respect is key, respecting themselves, respecting their teammates and coaches, and respecting the opponents we play. At the end of the day, we’re out there to compete and have fun but we want to take care of each other,” Panasci said. “Responsibility is another value. I understand they’re student-athletes and they have a lot of things going on, but being flexible and communicating with me is important.  

“Lastly I want them to keep it fun, if you’re not having fun you can possibly be taking someone else down so have fun.”  

Expectations are a big part of establishing a foundation for your team. But in Panasci’s case, his ability to set expectations for the season were unique because he had so little time to create a clear vision of roles and responsibilities for the team.  

“I knew that Castleton has had experienced players in the past so coming in we had five players on the team and all of them had experience, but you need six to be considered a team. So, we sent out a school-wide email and gained 4 new tennis players with no tennis experience, but my expectations were to just see what we had and go with it,” Panasci said.  

Camille Jackson

With a mix of experienced and non-experienced players, the outlook for the team is to just compete. Panasci understands the current position of the program so he preaches for his players to maximize their ability. Playing in a tough Little East Conference, Panasci knows a lot of the teams have more established players, but the hope is for players to keep their heads up when they’re outmatched.    

Panasci has been super encouraged with the cohesiveness of the team. They work together well on and off the court, keeping each other in line not only with tennis but in the classroom as well. 

“The girls last year won the President GPA cup by setting high academic standards but also setting high expectations for themselves to be timely and be good sports,” Panasci said. “They all get along really well by having team events and their communication with each other is great.”  

Homecoming weekend was big for the women’s tennis team as they notched their first victory of the season over VTSU Lyndon on Sunday. The Spartans dominated in both singles and doubles play.  

“That win felt good. We’ve gone into matchups where we’ve been completely outgunned so going up against Lyndon was validating,” Panasci said. “Sometimes when you’re in a streak of losing, it can be difficult to figure out how to get that win so that was really encouraging to see all the girls get it done.” 

Being a coach is no small feat but it comes with great perks. Coaches get an opportunity to be special lights in athletes lives. So, what is the most rewarding part of coaching for Panasci?  

“The athletes are having a good time, being happy with each other and enjoying each others’ company. Win or loss it’s Division 3. And that’s not to say that we’re not competing, but at the end of the day it’s a game,” Panasci said.  

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