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When Dave Fish announced his retirement after 42 years, Harvard lost a coaching legend who immensely shaped the men’s tennis program. However, there was one person who was the obvious choice to be Fish’s successor, and that was Andrew Rueb ‘95.
For the past 11 years, he has helped Harvard to 192 victories and four Ivy League Championships as an assistant and associate head coach. Now he looks to continue the program’s tradition of excellence created by his mentor.
As only the fourth head coach in the history of the men’s tennis program, Rueb brings a unique set of skills and knowledge that comes from the vast amount of time he has spent around Harvard. He has been an undergraduate student, a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, and has even served as a proctor, academic advisor, and teaching fellow over the years. Rueb was named the John Reardon Male Scholar Athlete of 1995.
“I definitely think its an advantage to understand how to walk this tightrope of high-performance athletics and world-class education,” Reub said. “When I speak to parents and players about managing the on and off court demands of Harvard, there’s extra weight behind those words because I’ve had to live it.”
During his years as assistant coach, Rueb became an ardent proponent of integration between the academic and athletic sides of Harvard.
“I think it really does help to be well connected with the academic life on campus,” Reub said. “Knowing that there [are] obviously certain pressure points in the academic calendar in anybody’s year, and so I think that give and take really helps with how [the student athletes] can do the best that they can in the classroom but also excel on the court.”
His commitment to the classroom is probably best shown by the Back to School Week program that has become an annual event since its conception eight years ago. After noting that both coaches and professors were not very familiar with what happens on the other side of the Charles, coach Rueb saw a “perfect opportunity” to bridge the gap between these two sides of Harvard. The program encourages coaches to sit in on class with their athletes and see what it’s like to learn from the all-star faculty that Harvard has.
“I think I was uniquely situated to help build some of that bridge but I also thought the other coaches were more than enthusiastic about learning a little more about what happens on the other side of the river, to get to know more professors, and to make those connections,” Rueb said. “It’s really been something taken on with both hands and it’s been great to watch it grow throughout the years.”
Rueb’s emphasis on learning also extends to himself, which he says is one of the many lessons he learned from his predecessor, Dave Fish. He cites humility and innovation as two of Fish’s values that he wants his own to players to learn.
“I think that again and again with the mentors and teachers I most respect, they tend to be the best students as well as good teachers,” Rueb said.
Coach Rueb’s experiences as a collegiate player and on the professional tour give him the knowledge and credibility necessary to coach a college tennis team. During his time at Harvard, he was named Ivy League Player of the Year twice and was inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2013. He refers to his time on the pro circuit as one of the best learning experiences he has ever had. He considers the highlight of his tennis career to be the chance to play doubles at Wimbledon in 1997.
“I always considered my four years on the tour my second degree after Harvard,” Rueb said.
His expertise in this area is not lost on his players, including sophomore Lane Leschly, who said that “for anything doubles related, he’s the best guy in the business.”
As for the future of the men’s tennis program at Harvard, Rueb feels that in addition to NCAA appearances and Ivy League titles, creating a strong team culture is one of his major goals.
“I want to see if we can continue to keep this as a program of significance, and what I mean by that is developing our young men’s character in a way that the university and our alumni can be proud of,” Rueb said.
Captain Chris Morrow felt that Rueb’s history with the program helps with the continuation of the program’s culture.
“It’s been a seamless transition, he knows Harvard inside and out. He was very well set up to step up into that role. [He’s] really big on character development,” Morrow said, “I think that’s something that stands out about him.”
Leschly also commented on the team’s atmosphere.
“He does an incredible job creating a really supportive and cohesive culture on the team that Fish had,” Leschly said. “So he’s continued that really well.”
With the 2018 season underway, Harvard Tennis has had good showings in Ivy competition and intercollegiate tournaments. But perhaps more importantly, the program is continuing to develop a culture of excellence under the leadership of its new Scott Mead ‘77 Head Tennis Coach, Andrew Rueb.
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