Meet Ricardo Gonzalez, the man behind the racket(s)


Photo courtesy of Media Relations.

Once a volunteer tennis coach for FAU, Ricardo Gonzalez is now the head of the FAU tennis program. Previous head coach Brandon Stokes was let go due to suspected hazing activity. He volunteered with the FAU tennis team for about a week before being hired full-time in August 2013.

Gonzalez heard about the job from Stokes, who now is the head tennis coach at the University of Texas Pan-American. “I knew the coach [Stokes], gave him a call because I knew I wanted to get into college coaching, and I was happy to help.”

Gonzalez began as an assistant coach in 2011 for Davidson College in North Carolina. This was his only college experience before the offer to coach FAU came along. He acknowledged his lack of experience in the coaching realm. “There is a lot more I need to learn as far as coaching tennis goes,” he said. “It’s quite different from playing.”

Photo courtesy of Media Relations.
Photo courtesy of Media Relations.

Before FAU, he spent a few years at different tennis organizations. He worked at the Evert Academy with founder John Evert, and his sister Chris Evert. Gonzalez has also served at different tennis programs in South Carolina, working with Stan Smith and Billy Sterns. Both are national and international champions who are considered world-class coaches.

A native of Puerto Rico, Gonzalez says, “Tennis is a lot bigger here. That is a major difference I noticed.” An alumni of the University of Georgia, he served as captain on a team that won a national championship in his senior year. The season before, the Bulldogs were the runner-up.

He does not use his past experience as a conversation starter, though. “What I did in the past is in the past,” he Gonzalez said. “I am now living in the present, and I will build from there.”

Now in south Florida, he could not have asked for a better position. “I love it here. I’m glad to be here, and I am here to learn. I want to create my standard as a coach.”

Photo courtesy of Media Relations.
Photo courtesy of Media Relations.

Part of creating that standard is helping his players in all aspects of life. Not just tennis, but adapting to college life, balancing time, and any other situations that he can give a helping hand. “I’m here to help, I’ve been there before. I’m a father, a husband, and in any way I can, I will help them out,” he said.

Senior Robert Dubuque echoed the same sentiment. “You can really tell that he cares. If I wanted to go to him for advice on anything I know that I would be able to.”

Knowing when someone has been in your shoes before will make any new situation easier to approach. Will Neuner, another senior, says, “He is an overall really nice guy who really wants this team to be the best that we can be. “One day we had a barbeque on the beach.”

Gonzalez also wants to build leadership within his team, thinking that it will help them with the game, but also life itself. “This is a great, hardworking team, and I want all thirteen of them to become leaders,” he said. “They are working hard, and are all talented.”

Dubuque said, “[Gonzalez] is tough on us. We do a lot of running and conditioning and practice hard, but it’s because of the potential that he sees in us as a team.”

Gonzalez and his program start their season on Oct. 16 in a five-day tournament in Atlanta, Ga.