SPOTLIGHT: Coach fell for sport three decades ago

Giving pointers–Coach John Armstrong talks to sophomore Isabella Hare during a trip-match with Denver City and Pecos on August 27.

  Tennis Coach John Armstrong has played a variety of sports, but tennis has his heart.

  “Tennis is a challenging sport,” Armstrong said. “It has pushed me athletically my whole life. I’ve played football, soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball and more, but tennis was the one that pushed me the hardest.  I love what it requires athletically and mentally. I also like that tennis allowed me to compete on a team for team success and also allowed me to compete as an individual player. Tennis is a lifelong sport also.”

  Armstrong wanted to earn a degree involving math and had a passion for tennis, so he combined both.

  “I became a tennis coach for two reasons,” Armstrong said. “One of the most influential people in my life, outside of my parents, was my tennis coach Novice Kniffen. He was the best. He showed me so many life lessons and helped me learn a sport I loved. Secondly, when I was attending college at Howard Payne, I was looking to pursue a degree with something involving math.  It’s a subject that always came easy to me. I was playing tennis at Howard Payne as well. One day early on, I realized that I wanted to be around tennis and sports as a career. I’ve always enjoyed all sports. With that thought, I decided to get into coaching. It would allow me to use my math skills to teach and be around a sport I was passionate about.“

  Armstrong said that wins are great, losses are hard, but playing a role in the development of an athlete and helping them be successful brings him great joy.

  “He is an amazing coach and expects a lot out of us and puts in a lot of effort,” sophomore Zeke Carrillo said.

  Armstrong is the third head coach Tribe tennis has had in three years.

  “He actually stays,” Carrillo said. “Other coaches leave in a year.”

  Armstrong said that adversity creeps in when athletes stop growing. He teaches players to be the best they can be today–that they can move on from the past–the future is full of dreams and possibilities.  

  “I had to get used to the hard work and had to get used to talking with him because I’m shy,” sophomore Haylee Villanueva said.

   Armstrong has dedication not only to the game but also to his team.

  “My philosophy of coaching is that you will only be as successful as the hard work and dedication that you put into your sport,” Armstrong said. ”You have to set goals to be able to achieve goals, and you can achieve any goal if you are willing to do what others are not willing to do.”

  Armstrong qualified for state for Andrews High School in 1995 and 1996.

  “I was a state quarter finalist my sophomore year and a state semi-finalist my junior year, both in doubles,” Armstrong said. “It was an amazing experience. We competed in Austin at the Texas Longhorns tennis facility. My doubles partner and I lost to San Antonio Alamo Heights one year and Dallas Highland Park the next. The whole trip is unforgettable. It was awesome playing at a big stage on a stadium court against the best of the best. Being out there and knowing it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity allows you to soak it all in and never forget it.”