Damian Hume has one of the most polished tennis resumes out there. The South African native was ranked as high as #37 in the world as a junior before starting his college tennis journey at Collin County Community College in Texas where he won a Junior College national singles title. This sparked enough interest from plenty of DI tennis programs that led Damian to eventually join the Boise State Broncos for the last two years of his college tennis career. For the Broncos, Damian played primarily out of the number 1 spot and was ranked as high as #25 in singles. After his playing career, he joined the Michigan State Spartans as the Assistant Coach in January 2014 where he helped Harry Jadun and John Patrick Mullane earn All-American honors with their NCAA semifinal run. As of October 2015, Damian is the Assistant Coach for the Princeton Tigers that finished the 2018 season ranked #53.
His attitude, work ethic, and compassion for the game of tennis are unmatched. Learn more about him, his career, and his goals in his story below.
Damian, thank you for joining us. Before we dive deeper into your incredibly impressive college tennis career, explain a little bit how you got started with tennis and just your early tennis days in general.
My family has had an incredible impact on (the start of) my tennis career. I would not be in the position I am today without them. It may sound cliché, but I know I will never be able to thank them enough. My family did not have a lot of money when I was growing up, but my mother would do whatever it took to get me what I needed and drive me to where I needed to be. Even though my parents did not play tennis, they would drive me to any park in our area with a tennis court. They would try to help me practice, but our games looked more like a game of fetch than a tennis match. I will always remember watching my dad try to serve to me. I started working with my coach, Earl Grainger, when I was 14. Besides my parents, Earl has had the most significant impact on my life, both on and off the court. He helped shape me as a player, coach, and person. I am incredibly thankful for the influence both my parents and Earl have had on my life.
You have made so many unique college tennis experiences. Is it possible to pinpoint your most memorable one?
My most memorable experience as a college athlete was winning the national championship with my team Collin College during my sophomore year. The win was such an exceptional team effort and confirmation of all our hard work. I will never forget all our team conquered together to achieve that goal. I will remember it as a long as I live. Any experience, seemingly small or significant, can impact your journey. You are the one who decides how something affects you. My goal now is to help players use all their experiences, both ones they see as positive and ones they initially perceive as negative, as teaching moments.
You already briefly touched on some of your coaching goals which inevitably brings us to our next question. Talk a little bit about being a college tennis coach. You have made valuable experiences as an Assistant Coach for Michigan State and now Princeton. Do you enjoy it more than playing? Do you have a specific coaching philosophy or how do you approach this job?
I absolutely love college coaching! Each day I get to be part of a sport I love and help teach and mold the next generation of players. Even though I am still somewhat new to coaching, I quickly realized that coaching is not just about the racket and ball. As coaches, we get the privilege of helping players discover more about the game, yes, but we also help instill life lessons. In my opinion, coaching is more challenging than playing. Hitting a ball is easy. Coaching involves building a relationship and a language to communicate ideas and concepts with each player. Every player has his or her own unique style and understanding. As a coach, I have to translate the same message differently to different players. It is a fun puzzle. I enjoy helping players understand and thrive in this tough sport!
I want our players to become the best people they can be and I try to look for the best in people and work to bring those qualities out. It is life-giving to see players grow from your relationship with them. A verse I use that inspires me is, “As Iron sharpens Iron, so one person sharpens another.” People have shown me so much love and support throughout my life. I want to give the same passion on to others. I try to demonstrate that same love and respect to my players and other people I come into contact with every day. Goals motivate me to keep pressing forward. I attach goals to all aspects of my coaching.
Before you started to coach, you were a very successful player for the Boise State Broncos. Can you talk a little bit about your time at Boise State?
My time at Boise State was amazing. I loved every minute of it! First of all, the fans were outstanding. We had great crowds and there many faithful supporters of our team. Their energy certainly helped us win many of the matches. Secondly, my experience would have been entirely different without my teammates. Together we created memories I will never forget! Lastly, our coach, Greg Patton, was truly incredible. By observing how he lived his life, I learned to be grateful for everything we have. Playing college tennis—no matter the level—is a privilege. He taught us to remember and embrace that privilege while we play. Patton also demonstrated the power of love. Patton taught me to love my teammates, coaches, family, fan, and people you meet along the way. That is how Patton lives, and the results of that love are evident. He knows so many people, and everyone loves him. He treats everyone with enthusiasm and love.
Damian, to conclude, share with our audience how tennis has impacted your life and the value it holds in your life.
The sport of tennis teaches you more than how to hit a ball over the net. Tennis provides lessons on overcoming adversity, discipline, teamwork (especially at the college level), controlling emotions, leadership, time management, and more. I am who I am today off the court in large part because of the lessons learned on the court. These transferable lessons are what I love about tennis!
If you have made it this far, thank you very much for your attention. This means the absolute world to us. We hope that you enjoyed this story from Damian Hume and if you did, please share it with someone that could also enjoy it.