Legendary coach Peter Smith departs USC

The USC Trojans will head into the new Men’s Tennis season without a familiar face at the helm. On Friday, the school announced the resignation of legendary head coach Peter Smith, effective August 1.

Smith, a five-time PAC-12 Coach of the Year, was expected to return for his 18th season at USC this fall, in search of a sixth NCAA championship under his leadership. The team captured national titles from 2009-2012, and again in 2014.

As head coach, Smith posted 381 wins throughout his tenure. Among the perennial favorites to land atop the PAC-12 each year, Smith’s Trojans advanced to the NCAA tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons. Last year, the Trojans won the PAC-12 tournament and reached the Round of 16 at the NCAA Championships.

The university has announced it will conduct a national search for its next head coach. Assistant Head Coach Kris Kwinta will assume the role during the transition period.

A well-known icon in collegiate tennis, Smith is among the most highly regarded head coaches in college sports. He has coached previously at Pepperdine, Fresno State, and Long Beach State.

“I would like to thank USC for the opportunity,” Smith said in the school’s official release. “Thank you to my players and assistant coaches for the journey. I will miss so many wonderful people that helped us.”

Smith is also the patriarch of a true tennis family that includes wife Tammie and sons Tanner, Riley, and Colter. Both Tanner and Riley Smith have played under their father’s guidance as USC Trojans. According to TennisRecruiting, high school senior Colter Smith has committed to USC as well.

With his talented sons, Smith continues to compete in various competitions. Last month, Peter & Riley Smith were victorious at the 2019 USTA Southern California Open Sectionals, winning the annual men’s doubles title. In 2014, Peter joined oldest son Tanner to capture the Father/Son USTA national title on both clay and hard court.

Southern California notables were quick to respond to Smith’s sudden departure.

Fresh off an appearance at Wimbledon, former USC Women’s standout Sabrina Santamaria called Smith the “ultimate legend,” adding, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without (your) encouragement and help.”

Brandon Holt, the PAC-12 Player of the Year last season under Smith, credited his coach for creating “an atmosphere of love, belonging, accountability, and competitive spirit that we will all have for life. You didn’t merely tell us to strive for these things, you led by example,” Holt said on social media.

“Your legacy in our sport will live on,” one reader wrote on social media, “and you will always be a legendary coach in my eyes…”

One Response

  • The best coach ever… and so fun‼️He made everyone want to PLAY well and hard… and the harder you worked and laughed the better you PLAYed. I remember him saying “… if you hit it right, you can hit as hard as you want… and it will go right where you want it to!
    That, and RUN!

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