Long-time Cornerstone Preparatory Academy tennis coach, Steve DeFrancesco, is retiring after 8 years of faithful service and leading our teams to numerous awards. We caught up with “Coach Steve”, as he is affectionately known to the athletes, to share what kept him coming back each year and what the next season holds as he passes along his coach’s duties.
The Building Years
Coach DeFrancesco began coaching in 2014 alongside Cynthia White who laid a solid foundation for Cornerstone’s tennis program.
“Coach Steve was a tremendous asset to Cornerstone’s young tennis team," recalls former tennis coach, Cynthia White. “While I loved being able to coach the team for a few seasons, I knew it was time for a change. Our team was growing and needed more - more space, more coaches, and more time. Coach Steve provided all of that and more. He was able to locate a beautiful facility for their practices and matches and also provide some wonderful assistant coaches. This allowed the team to grow in numbers and in skill. He made our great team what it is today and he will be dearly missed.”
During the 8 years of Coach DeFrancesco’s coaching career, the Cornerstone Preparatory Academy tennis teams defined themselves as a strong competitor in the GICAA and GAPPS conference having earned the right to compete in the state tournaments eight out of eight years. They have received numerous accolades including a girls state championship team in 2015 and a boys state runner-up team in 2019. In addition, several of Cornerstone’s individual players have received state championship medals while being coached by Coach DeFrancesco.
The Thrill of Competition
Coach DeFrancesco knows what it feels like to compete in junior tennis. As a state-ranked junior tennis player himself and having played 4 years of varsity high school tennis, he’s no stranger to the stress and excitement of representing your school on the tennis court. “The competition of team tennis is exhilarating! 7 players take the courts competing in 5 different matches at the same time. Because you have to win 3 of the 5 matches to advance, you never know which match is going to be the critical match to advance the team to the next round. Every player has a part to play. The crowd begins to build as matches finish and teams advance resulting in a lot of pressure and excitement. It’s truly exhilarating” says Coach DeFrancesco.
A Love For The Game, And His Players
"I began coaching tennis at Cornerstone because of my love for tennis but I quickly realized that it was my love for the players and their families that caused me to return each year,” said Coach DeFrancesco.
“Tennis is a wonderful sport that you can play your entire life but watching our players develop athletically, spiritually, and socially has been a highlight of coaching at Cornerstone.” When asked what event he’s going to miss most from his retirement from coaching, Coach DeFrancesco said this: “Well, I love it all...the matches, the tournaments, and the practices but I’ll probably miss the end of the season banquet the most. I consistently get to see our players sweaty, stinky, and exhausted over the 4 months of tennis season. But when we get to the banquet, I get to see them in a different light and at their best. They are dressed up. We laugh a lot. We get to celebrate each player and their accomplishments throughout the season. I put together a video every year that we show at the banquet highlighting our season and what we’ve achieved. It’s amazing to see everyone’s development. Don’t tell anyone but I cry every year without fail.”
2021 has brought a new coach to the Cornerstone tennis program, Braunice Jamieson. “Coach Jamieson is going to be a fabulous leader to the Cornerstone tennis teams,” said Coach DeFrancesco. “We coached together in the abbreviated 2020 tennis season and Braunice is going to do a great job of building the program. I look forward to working with Braunice behind the scenes as she steps into her new role.”
A New Season
Although Coach DeFrancesco has taken a break from coaching, he hasn’t stopped playing tennis as he is actively competing on several USTA and ALTA tennis teams. He’s also taken up a new sport....pickleball. Coach DeFrancesco would love to hear from you. Cornerstone has his contact information and is happy to share it with you should you need it.
Cornerstone’s tennis season is well underway with their next match scheduled for Thursday, March, 4th at 3:30 p.m. at Governors Towne Club. Good luck Cougars!