Coach Stan Jefferson knows what it takes to reach high levels of athletic success and he has helped many players achieve the same. He has been coaching for over 30 years and has made a huge impact on the Southern California tennis community. For his efforts, he received the Eugene Jung Multicultural Award recently from the Southern California Tennis Association.
Jefferson is a USPTA professional and he works with diverse multicultural students at Mountain View Sports and Racquet Club at Martin Luther King Park in Southeast San Diego. He also teaches recreational classes at Miramar College. He has created a culture of inclusion for all players of all races who want to learn the game of tennis. He offers training to students in group settings where many different levels work together. Through this, he builds a mentoring system that has worked for many years . Top players inspire younger ones by displaying a strong work ethic, dedication and motivation.
“The younger players see what it takes to be top-ranked in So Cal or nationally,” said Jefferson, a A standout player at Texas Southern University. “It takes some of the mystery out of the path to success. They are directly part of the process. “
Jefferson’s sets his expectations high for all players in his programs. In fact, athletic success runs in his family. His brother is John “J.J.” Jefferson, the former great Chargers wide receiver, who made Pro Bowl appearances in each of his three seasons with the team. J.J. was the 14th overall pick in the 1978 draft and was a key part of the “Air Coryell” offense. He led the NFL in touchdown catches as a rookie.
Stan, a talented athlete like his brother, picked up tennis at age 14 but worked hard to earn a scholarship at Texas Southern University. He was the team captain three of the four years.
“I played No. 6 singles,” Jefferson said. “I was pretty good but I wasn’t the best player. The reason why I was named captain was because of my work ethic. Coach knew that I would get up early and get my team going on morning runs. I learned that hard work counted for a lot.”
Said Texas Southern University teammate Mark Edmonds: “Stan works on their tennis and their minds. He knows there is a window of learning and he gives them as much information as possible in that critical time. He sees the obstacles that need to be overcome and he keeps their heads straight with the right aspirations.”
Jefferson transferred that same drive and determination to succeed from competing to coaching. In 1981, Jefferson moved from Texas to Tierrasanta, the latter a lush, hilly and quiet neighborhood of San Diego. He worked in a sporting goods store, and did not expect to become a coach.
“I thought that coaching was something you did when you couldn’t become a professional player,” he said. “It proved you weren’t able to succeed in tennis. I was wrong. Being a coach is a different type of success. You can have a great impact on kids in a much better way.”
Three decades later, Jefferson has helped hundreds of kids learn the game and several have earned college scholarships as well as sectional and national rankings. Top players were Tiffany Filipovich (South Dakota State) and Francis Filipovich (Idaho State University ), Jwany Sherif, Shayee Sherif, Lawee Sherif, and Siem and Winta Woldab.
“I fully understand my role in their success,” Jefferson said. “If a kid has a chance to reach his or her goals it depends on me to create the right environment. You can’t be going thru the motions and you can’t wing it. You have to provide the right kind of practice and training.”
Jefferson is a no nonsense coach with a big heart. He is one of the reasons for Siem Woldab’s success. Woldab is first generation American-born to immigrant parents from Eritea, East Africa. He was named to the 2017 USA National Junior Team and reached the semifinals of the USTA Boys’ 16s Nationals at Kalamazoo last summer. Jefferson offered Woldab two training sessions per day last year and that made all of the difference.
“We worked out before school at (6 to 7:30am) and again after school,” said Woldab, now a junior at Helix High. “I want to go pro. I know it will be hard but I have the drive. I am willing to do what is necessary.”
Jefferson believes a player’s success is dependent on the environment created by the coach. He is also realistic about helping parents and players establish goals and expectations. He has heart to heart talks with parents to let them know that if tennis is not a top priority then he or she is not a match to becoming a great player in Southern California or in the nation.
“Playing once or twice a week is not going to do it and parents need to understand that,” Jefferson said. “That’s okay though because it helps us set other goals like making a high school team. It’s important to allow them to make the choice because the have to do the work either way.”
For those with drive and determination, however, Jefferson is willing to go the extra mile.
“If a coach is not trying to produce a world class athlete then you won’t get one,” Jefferson said. “You have to believe in the potential of each athlete, and help them reach their dreams and aspirations. How much work, dedication and motivation they bring to the court us up to them. When they walk onto the court to perform, my job is done. At that point, it is up to them.”