Five Questions for… JT Sundling, Coach of the USF Men’s Tennis Team

JT Sundling

Players at the Goldman Tennis Center will probably recognize JT Sundling, the head coach of the USF men’s tennis team. He and the USF players are at GTC many days of the week to practice as well as to play home matches (to which the public is encouraged to attend!).

Sundling originally joined the USF staff in 2018-19 as a volunteer assistant before moving up to assistant coach and then to interim head coach in the 2019-20 season. Previously he worked at the California Tennis Club as a teaching professional where he specialized in working with high performance juniors. In 2017 he helped captain the Under 14 team to win NorCal's first-ever National Championship.
A native of Thousand Oaks, CA, Sundling had an illustrious college career, which began at the University of Southern California, where he was a two-time NCAA team champion as well as a two-time All-NCAA first team selection.  After two years he transferred to Texas Christian University where he was the captain of the tennis team. His junior career was also spectacular – among many accomplishments, he won the boy's 16s and 18s National Hard Court Championships in Kalamazoo with partner Daniel Nguyen, which gave him entrance into the Men's 2009 U.S. Open doubles main draw.  

1.What inspires you to continue your tennis career in the role of head coach?

I absolutely love the sport of tennis and have really come to appreciate all the opportunities the sport has provided me with.  Being a head coach provides me with an outlet to share everything I have learned, which is incredibly engaging as well as exciting for me.  I vividly remember the ups and downs you go thru as a player and being able to teach players how to navigate that space is what really drives me. 


2.You were nationally ranked as a junior, playing on the Junior Davis Cup team and winning national Junior titles. And you have coached young players at the Cal Club. What advice do you have for high-performance juniors who are looking to play competitively in college or as a professional?

Play as many matches and tournaments as you can. If you are not able to play tournaments play as many full practice matches as you can.  I adhere to this idea that you are not able to really see your true potential as a player unless you are playing at least 60-80 matches per year.  Once you start playing 60-80 matches per year you will have super clear feedback from your results as to what you need to do in order to improve as a player.  Having clarity as to what you need to work on to get to the next level is incredibly important and the best way to figure that out is to compete all the time.  Additionally, when you play 80 matches in a year it is much easier to play relaxed because it feels like just another tennis match. If you are only playing 20 matches per year it is easy to put way to much importance and stress on each individual match which will ultimately limit your ability to play your best.  Most importantly have fun and remember you why you started playing tennis...because you LOVE the sport.


3.The USF men and women practice at the Goldman Tennis center and play many home matches there.  What has the experience of playing in the newly renovated facility been like?

Playing at the Goldman Tennis Center has been an incredible experience for the team.  We would like to thank everyone involved that supported the creation of GTC as it really is a very special place. It is an exciting place to play for many reasons but something that has been very special is the foot traffic that GTC organically receives due to the location.  GTC also hosts multiple tournaments each year that provide a great outlet for the Dons to get extra match play in throughout the year which the Dons love.


4.How did you first get interested in tennis?

I have 4 siblings and growing up my 2 older brothers played tennis.  We had moved to England and it was one of the few sports that transitioned back to the USA.  We moved to CA when I was about 5 years old and I kept following my brothers to the courts and ultimately fell in love with the sport.  What helped my passion grow for the sport was the group of friends I was lucky enough to link up with at a young age.  We would hang out all the time and since we all loved tennis we ultimately found ourselves at the club competing every chance we could.


5.When not playing or coaching tennis, what might we find you doing?

Since moving to San Francisco I have fallen more in love with the outdoors than I ever could of imagined. I love biking, running, swimming, backpacking, really anything that puts me out in nature.  I recently participated in a couple of the Alcatraz swims and have gotten a few triathlons under my belt which has been an exciting new challenge!