Boise State

Meet the Boise State Zen master who just happens to coach tennis, too

BSU tennis coach Greg Patton: Passion for coaching

Nothing if not enthusiastic, long-time Boise State head tennis coach Greg Patton says that while winning is nice, it isn't the most important thing. The most important thing is passion and purpose.
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Nothing if not enthusiastic, long-time Boise State head tennis coach Greg Patton says that while winning is nice, it isn't the most important thing. The most important thing is passion and purpose.

Take two parts Bill Walton and a single serving of Phil Jackson and you’ll have some semblance of Boise State’s Greg Patton.

The 64-year-old has been the men’s tennis coach at Boise State for 21 years. The Broncos’ success under his watch — a 448-197 record, 14 conference titles and 16 NCAA Championship appearances — is just part of the story.

Beyond the success on the tennis court is a man with stories to tell. And Patton has enough tales for a lifetime. He’s far more than the 5-23 record his team has assembled heading into the Mountain West tournament, which starts Friday at Boise State.

Since his early days of coaching, Boise State head tennis coach Greg Patton has kept a notebook full of wise sayings, sage thoughts and advice for living — which has to a lot to do with being a good tennis player.

Patton is part rah-rah coach who rallies the troops and part zen master with a life philosophy for everything. A simple four-question interview can easily turn into an hourlong conversation on everything ranging from his theories on life to movies and family.

During a recent interview, Patton pulled out a notebook the size of a bound encyclopedia. In it is a collection of 30 years worth of notes Patton has written to himself. Its pages range from diagrammed tennis strategies to poems to reminders on how to better himself. The outer portions of the binder have changed, but for the most part its pages remain intact, albeit faded.

Boise State University head tennis coach Greg Patton is a movie aficionado. He talks about two whose philosophies define his life in very different ways: James Stewart's "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Field of Dreams."

The monstrous book certainly doesn’t define Greg Patton. But as he sits in his office and flips to a random page, it becomes clear the book is a good place to start.

“I write notes to myself. I just opened this page. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. The Beatles were rejected. I started looking for people who failed,” Patton said. “If life is a classroom, adversity is a teacher. Then I adapted it here: the tennis court is a classroom, and the tennis matches are a teacher.”

Mountain West Men’s Tennis Championships

Where: Appleton Tennis Center (next to Taco Bell Arena at Boise State). In case of inclement weather, matches will be at Boas Indoor Tennis Center, 1507 S. Oakland Ave.

When: Friday, April 28 to Saturday, April 30

Broncos’ schedule: No. 8 Boise State vs. No. 1 Utah State, 6 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $5 for adults, $3 students with ID.

Parking: Free in the west stadium lot between Taco Bell Arena and Albertsons Stadium.

Click here for live coverage.

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