YORK — Phil Suggs, who became a volunteer assistant coach for the York Comprehensive High School girls’ tennis team in the fall of 2004 and has coached girls’ and boys’ tennis teams, has stepped down.
Suggs said he needs to focus on his role as director of the YCHS choral program. The singers, he said, “will once again be in the running for many state-level awards this year,” said Suggs, who said he also wants to focus on his own tennis game.
“I played several tournaments this summer and have risen to a No. 3 ranking in the state at 3.0 singles,” he said. “I captain an adult league team through the Mid-Carolina Tennis Association three seasons each calendar year.”
Suggs is also a choir director at First Presbyterian Church in York.
Rusty Graham will succeed Suggs as coach for the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams, said athletic director Steve Boyd.
“Rusty brings youth and enthusiasm to YCHS tennis,” said Boyd. “He has a knowledge of the game and the players like him. We are pleased that Rusty has agreed to coach the tennis teams.”
Graham said he is thankful for the opportunity to coach in the York school district.
“I want to thank coach Boyd for having confidence in me to coach tennis at YCHS,” said Graham. “We have a great group of kids, which makes my job easier.”
Graham said he is aware of Suggs’ contributions to the program.
“Phil is a good man in many ways,” said Graham. “He has a busy slate, which is why I got the job. I will try to fill his shoes.”
During his tenure as YCHS tennis coach, Suggs coached his daughter Jennifer and his son Chris. He became the tennis coach for the YCHS boys and girls’ teams in 2006.
Suggs said he stepped down after spring 2008 “to allow a more skilled coach to work with the kids,” Suggs said. However, he said, the position reopened in spring 2011 and he returned.
Suggs said he loves tennis and knows it can be played by anyone their entire life.
“The game teaches patience,” he said. “Players cannot get too down on themselves or overexcited when things go well. The game teaches honesty and integrity as there are no officials. Players make their own calls.”
Suggs said he greatly appreciates the experience of Johnny Wine, who has volunteered to help the past several years. He added that a 2012 donation by local Realtor Tim Helline allowed the school to purchase a ball machine for the team.
“I had the privilege to coach great kids who did their best despite not being as experienced at the game as most of their opponents,” said Suggs.
He cited the need for a tennis program to encourage both adults and kids to play.
“If kids start playing at a younger age, they can be more competitive at the high school level,” said Suggs. “The majority of the kids on our teams didn’t start playing tennis until at least middle school and many not until high school.”
Boyd praised Suggs for his commitment.
“Phil did an outstanding job coaching girls’ and boys’ tennis at YCHS,” said Boyd. “We were very pleased with his coaching and dedication to the program. He worked with the kids in the offseason.”
Boyd said Suggs is a great organizer, who earned respect from his students. “He gave up coaching tennis to devote more time to his chorus students and church choir members and to play competitive tennis,” said Boyd.
Wine will continue his role as volunteer coach. “We appreciate his contributions to the program,” said Boyd.
Suggs added: “I wish the best of luck to new coach Rusty Graham and to all of the players. Tennis, like singing, is for life.”