Men's and women's tennis coach Wouter Hendrix stands on the new Ulrich Varsity Courts on Thursday, Oct. 29. The teams finished their seasons at the ITA Regionals on Oct. 25. (Brian Reiff/B&W Photo)

Lehigh tennis: Passing the torch from Dave Shook to Wouter Hendrix


Wouter Hendrix knew he had to fill the shoes of Dave Shook, a dedicated Lehigh tennis coach of nearly 25 years whose players and colleagues described as a man with a larger-than-life personality who simply loved living life.

He knew that Shook brought a certain positive energy and charisma to everything he did and was highly admired by everyone for his fun-loving spirit. However, what Hendrix also knew was that he was fully prepared to take over Shook’s position when he retired.

Hendrix is now the head tennis coach for both the men’s and women’s teams at Lehigh. This season marks his fourth year coaching the men and his second coaching the women. Before taking over as the men’s coach, Hendrix served as Shook’s assistant from 2008 to 2012. He was also recently named the Howard J. Talmud ’77 Head Men’s Tennis Coach, an endowed position at Lehigh.

“Thank God the athletics department chose someone who was already in our own Lehigh tennis family to take Shook’s spot,” said women’s captain and junior Jamie Campisi. “It definitely helped ease the transition. Hendrix already had experience working with both teams.”

Hendrix was born and raised in Belgium and has been playing tennis his whole life. In Belgium, he played at the international juniors level. He won the Belgian Doubles Championships twice and was in the Belgian top five during his junior’s career, according to the Lehigh Athletics website.

“Unlike Shook who never played competitively, Wouter has been breed as a competitive tennis player,” assistant coach Taylor Hampshire, ‘14, said. “He loves to win.”

Hendrix was part of an exchange program at Lehigh in 2007 with his home university, the University of Leuven in Belgium.

“As soon as I was introduced to Lehigh, I knew this was a special place with a lot of potential,” Hendrix said.

His time at Lehigh solidified his decision to pursue a coaching career.

Hendrix returned to Lehigh for graduate school and earned his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in 2010 while he was a graduate assistant for both the men’s and women’s teams under Shook’s supervision.

When promoted to employee status thereafter, Hendrix said Shook was at the tail end of his career.

“I happened to be the right guy in the right place,” he said.

Hendrix was Shook’s assistant for four years, even though Shook may have been ready to retire earlier.

“I’m glad that he let me stay in the assistant role for a few years so that I could learn from him and be prepared to take over when he left,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix and Shook were not just colleagues, but also good friends. Coming from a foreign country, Hendrix wasn’t very familiar with the American collegiate sports system and was worried he may not ever adjust. Throughout their time working together, Shook invested countless hours teaching Hendrix details, such as scheduling and recruiting.

“He was my mentor,” Hendrix said. “He truly introduced me to life as a college coach.”

In his first year as head coach for the men’s team in 2013, Hendrix led the Mountain Hawks to their first-ever Patriot League Championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament. It was also the first time that the team went undefeated at home in program history. Hendrix was then given the 2013 Patriot League Coach of the Year Award.

This past season, which was his first as head coach for the women’s team, Hendrix led the women to their first Patriot League semifinal appearance since 2009. Seven out of 11 players made the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll and one of the team’s freshmen was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year Award.

“This program is more talented than ever,” Hendrix said. “Both the men and women’s teams are considered to be top four programs in the league.”

Campisi said that Hendrix was a key component in the cultural change in Lehigh’s tennis program over the last few years. While the talent is definitely there in a way that it hasn’t been in the past, she said she has definitely noticed a difference in her play since Hendrix has taken over as coach.

“There have been several times during matches where I say to myself, ‘Wow, I probably wouldn’t have won this if Hendrix wasn’t my coach,’” Campisi said.

She credits his emphasis on fitness and his business-like demeanor to her success.

Men’s co-captain and senior Ricardo Prince said he has a lot of respect for the type of coach that Hendrix is. Instead of acting like a superior to his players, Hendrix makes it known that he’s still learning and wants to continue to grow just like everyone else.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that your coach doesn’t think they know everything,” Prince said. “Even though he can get serious, he still feels like one of the guys. We can joke around with him.”

Hampshire, who was recruited to play at Lehigh by Shook and Hendrix, has witnessed the transition in leadership from Shook to Hendrix first hand.

“It’s funny that I work with coach Hendrix now, since he was the one who coached me when I played,” Hampshire said. “We work really well together. I think it’s because we have such similar personalities.”

Both Hampshire and Hendrix described themselves as organized, calm and somewhat introverted. To stay on top of everything, Hampshire said they use checklists, which can be seen throughout the tennis center.

In terms of the logistics of managing two teams, Hampshire and Hendrix divide and conquer. One day she will run the men’s practice while he runs the women’s, and then they will switch the next day.

“The goal for both is to be a contender for championship,” Hendrix said. “I believe these teams are capable.”

Campisi and Prince both agreed that Shook laid down a solid foundation for Lehigh tennis and Hendrix has been the right person to carry out his vision.

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