Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Longtime Bullis tennis coach to step down after season

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Charles E. Shoemaker⁄The Gazette
Standing in a familiar position, Jack Schore watches his Bullis boys tennis team practice for one of the final times with him as the head coach. After 27 years at the helm and 170 wins, Schore, 64, is stepping down.
No one ever thought this day would come.

Jack Schore’s name has become synonymous with Bullis boys tennis over the last three decades. But when the Bulldogs close out 2008 at the season-ending Ben Johns tournament (which they’ve won three straight years) May 7-9 at Episcopal High in Virginia, Schore will close the door on a prosperous career with the Potomac program.

Last year would have been the perfect time for the 27th-year Bullis boss to go out on top of his game. The Bulldogs (50-1 since 2005) finished 13-0, winning their third-consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference title. Their first-place finish at the Eastern Regional Championship in New Jersey qualified them for the National High School Coaches Association Tennis Invitational high school national championships, where they finished third.

After graduating seven of his top 10 players, Schore (170-67 career record) was uncertain what 2008 would bring. But the Bulldogs’ 6-1 win over IAC foe Georgetown Prep Friday puts them at 8-1 and a win away from their fourth-straight title.

‘‘I was looking forward to this season as a building season; toward teaching these kids how to win and really play the game,” Schore said. ‘‘Everything has just fallen into place. These kids have come a long way. This has been a great year.”

But it’s not all about winning and reputation for Schore, 64, who lived in Potomac until 15 years ago and now splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

To Schore, coaching is about instilling his passion for tennis in his charges; in teaching them how to apply lessons learned on the court in everyday life. It’s about building a genuine and individual relationship with each and every one of his students and guiding them to their full potential on and off the court.

‘‘At the beginning of every year there are a different set of circumstances,” Schore said. ‘‘It becomes a whole new challenge. I like that. It keeps me on my toes. You have to figure new situations out.”

Schore’s involvement at Bullis extends beyond high school coaching duties. In 1986 he helped fund the construction of the tennis bubble on campus. Now one of the largest and most prestigious junior tennis programs in the Washington area, it attracts 365 juniors and 150 adults per week and grossed $1 million in 2007.

In 1991, the U.S. Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic Tennis Hall of Famer co-founded the Urban Leadership Development Group with tennis legend Arthur Ashe. The program provides a scholarship fund for underprivileged student-athletes to attend Bullis.

After finishing his college career and graduating George Washington in 1963, Schore faced the harsh reality most junior tennis and college standouts run into: he wasn’t good enough to turn pro. He attended GW’s law school for two years, but was unhappy. Tennis was his real passion but he doubted he’d be able to make a living just coaching. Then, while teaching some adult lessons in the summer of 1965, he picked up his first junior tournament player, Diana Piotrow.

The better Piotrow did in junior tournaments, the more students sought Schore’s advice. And so an area tennis coaching legend was born. He never did make it back to law school after that.

Schore has coached such prestigious athletes as former ATP top-20 singles player and No. 1 doubles player Richey Reneberg, who won the 1992 U.S. Open and 1995 Australian Open men’s doubles titles, and Dan Goldie, who won the NCAA singles title his senior year at Stanford in 1984 and reached a career-high No. 27 on the ATP Tour in 1989.

‘‘Jack epitomizes the quality of being young at heart,” Bullis Headmaster Tom Farquhar said. ‘‘He’s easily able to interact with young people on his teams and to work successfully with tennis students of all ages. He has a kind of creativity in his approach to coaching that I find unique. He has a special gift where he can see a tennis match in progress and provide a new and creative idea of what to do with different variables that can shift the balance of a match.”

Schore line

1961-63: Played men’s varsity tennis at George Washington University

1977-78: Head coach University of Maryland women’s tennis (15-3 record)

1981: Coached first season at Bullis

1986: Help fund construction of Bullis bubble and jumpstart Bullis’ junior tennis academy

1991: Co-founded Urban Leadership Development Group with tennis legend Arthur Ashe

2005-present: Led Bulldogs to a 50-1 record, three IAC titles