Roland Thornqvist is nothing but familiar to the game of tennis. As a two-time All-American at North Carolina and a professional in the 90s, Thornqvist has certainly played his fair share.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Thornqvist has made his way through the NCAA. Starting his head-coaching career at the University of Kansas and then spending some time at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, he eventually landed the job at Florida in 2002.
Thornqvist said, “I always thought Florida tennis was the pinnacle of college tennis so when the job opened up here, I basically just applied for it. When I was offered the job, it was a layup to take it.”
Coaching the Gator women tennis team to 3 NCAA Team Championships, he has helped the program achieve monumental success. Now in his 13th year as head coach, Thornqvist isn’t depending on just luck to make it happen again.
Thornqvist said, “Being a good player can be a double-edged sword but I try to use it to put myself in the better players … shoes, and think, ‘what was it I needed?’ and try to provide some of those things to our players.”
However, it’s not solely his experience as a player that has contributed to the achievements he’s made as a coach.
“I don’t think it’s a prerequisite to have been a great player, per say, to be a good coach. I think being a good coach is understanding players, knowing when to say ‘what’ and sometimes that’s even more important than X’s and O’s frankly,” said Thornqvist.
But he knows his X’s and O’s. Since then the start of his UF coaching career, he has won SEC Coach of the Year three times and has left his mark all over the Florida tennis record books.
“The atmosphere Dave (Balogh, assistant coach) and I have tried to create where it’s one of hard work and sweat and fitness, but yet camaraderie, loyalty, a love for Florida and the Gator tennis program that sort of stays with our players when they leave for a long, long time. I think that’s what I’m very proud of”, said Thornqvist.
The fifth-ranked Gators will seek their 18th consecutive team NCAA appearance under Thornqvist this season