Talent is the major driver of athletic success, but in team sports, organizational culture may be the foundation.
Agustin Moreno, in his third year as women’s tennis coach, describes the culture he’s been building in three words: “Competitive, disciplined and talented.” Moreno says his recruitment strategy is to bring in talented competitors — good players who want to win.
A former player in Mexico himself and once a member of Mexico’s Davis Cup team, he has recruited in Europe and Mexico as well as the United States. “The new players raised the level of the players who are already here,” he says. “And the new recruits this year raised the level of all of those before.” Freshmen players are the team’s No. 1, 2 and 4 players, Moreno says, while sophomores are No. 3 and 6, and a junior is No. 5. “They embrace [the competition]. They only get better. It’s not like the new players who are great tennis players are going to make you worse, they’re just going to make you better. There is better practice, better quality, better habits.”
Tom Lloyd, fifth-year men’s tennis coach, says a culture of success involves work ethic and where you set the bar. “LMU has been used to being the spoiler, but now we’re the ranked team and the target is on our back. … We’re the hunted.” Lloyd says the team’s success has changed players’ understanding of what’s required to maintain a high level of play: “No cutting corners, putting in the extra 15 minutes, more responsibility.” Lloyd says even scheduling helps establish a culture. His team played UCLA and Arizona State away this season in order to face challenging conditions and quality opponents. “We’re competing to play in post-season, but post-season is not just making the conference tournament,” he says. “That’s just a step. … We want to play in the NCAA tournament on a national stage.”