Corona del Mar High did not need to look far to find its next boys' tennis coach.
Jamie Gresh stays in Newport Beach.
Gresh, who has been a junior varsity coach at Newport Harbor for two of the past three years, is moving across the bay to join the Sea Kings. He has been hired as their new head man, CdM Athletic Director Don Grable said Tuesday.
"It's an honor to accept the position to coach at such a prestigious tennis school such as CdM," Gresh said. "I'm just going to keep building upon the program they have already there, and help the kids to improve. I look forward to continuing the success that's been established by Brian [Ricker] and the previous coaches."
Gresh, 32, is a walk-on coach and also coaches privately. The Newport Beach resident is also a high-level tennis player in his own right. He was a four-year varsity player and two-year captain at Penn State, from which he graduated in 2002. He then spent a couple of years on the ATP Tour at the Futures level, earning rankings in singles and doubles.
Gresh, who is originally from Rhode Island, also was assistant men's tennis coach at Brown University from 2005-08 before moving to California.
"First and foremost, I'm looking for the kids to enjoy the sport," he said. "I think tennis is such a strategical game. The mental aspect — learning how to formulate points — is crucial. But probably my defining points as a coach are that they enjoy it, they learn and that they'll play it for the rest of their lives. It's a sport that you can do that. Keeping things fun and keeping things in perspective for the kids, the student-athletes, those are probably the focal points of my coaching."
Ricker resigned after four years as the Corona del Mar boys' coach after leading CdM to its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match appearance since 2003. The Sea Kings lost to University, 13-5. Ricker said he felt as if the boys' and girls' programs were becoming so big that they needed separate head coaches.
Ricker remains the CdM girls' head coach, a position he has held since 2004. He said Tuesday that he and Gresh have agreed to be each other's assistant coaches as well.
The two coaches are no strangers. Ricker said he and CdM JV coach Jody Young have combined to coach against Gresh's lower-level Sailors teams more than a dozen times.
"His teams were always well-mannered, they tried hard and they were having a good time," Ricker said. "I'm just really excited; it couldn't be a better fit ... I think that with Jamie, myself and Jody Young, it'll be an excellent coaching team. Jamie has the same ideas that I do, that conduct and sportsmanship should be the No. 1 priorities for the program and the kids. The kids have to work hard, have good practices and the wins and losses take care of themselves."
CdM should remain competitive in Division 1 next year. The Sea Kings are expected to bring back key players like incoming senior Alec Adamson, junior Carson Williams and sophomore Chaz Downing.
Adamson said he is excited for the addition of Gresh as coach.
"I know he's a really good player," Adamson said. "I think it'll be a good fit."