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Grove entering 36th season of leading SV netters

Longtime Seneca Valley tennis coach Eric Grove works with senior Bridget Elms during a recent practice. Submitted Photo
Net Gains

JACKSON TWP — Preparing Seneca Valley's tennis players for another upcoming season is second nature to Eric Grove. He's been doing so for over two decades.

But that hasn't dulled his enthusiasm for the sport or his love of coaching. And he does not take lightly the fact he's been able to do it for so long at his alma mater.

"I'm a Raider and this is my dream," said the 1988 SV graduate and resident of Evans City. "I love what I do and I love Seneca Valley. I make a point to say that every year at our team banquet.

"Seneca Valley is filled with great people, from the administration on down."

Grove is embarking on his 15th season of leading Seneca Valley's girls. Next spring will be his 22nd season of coaching the boys.

Dan Resetarits has been assisting Grove for 16 years.

"The dedication he's shown to the kids at Seneca Valley, not only to make them better tennis players, but also better people, is outstanding," said Resetarits. "That's why I've been there so long."

Tennis is a way of life for Grove and many of his childhood memories involve being on the court.

"My whole family played tennis," he said. "When my older brother, Darrin, was playing at Seneca Valley, I'd tag along with him and actually practiced with the team for two years before I was old enough to join."

But he didn't just play the game, he soaked in knowledge pertaining to the sport and was giving lessons at Lakevue Athletic Club while still in high school.

Grove attended Taylor University in Indiana and originally planned to join the school's men's team, but arrived too late for tryouts his freshman year. As a sophomore, he began assisting players on the women's team.

"I was coaching women who were the same age as me," said Grove. "We ended up making the NAIA national tournament one year in Kansas City. Playing and coaching, it would have been hard to do both and that's when I realized I wanted to be on the coaching end of it."

After working in Indianapolis for two years after graduating, he moved back to Pennsylvania in 1994 and began substitute teaching at a number of schools near Pittsburgh. He assisted North Allegheny boys head coach John Woffington for one year, then became head coach of Hampton's boys for a season.

In 1996, he was hired as a full-time physical education teacher at Seneca Valley's Connoquenessing Valley Elementary in Zelienople, the same school he attended as a youth. He's been there ever since.

Grove often tells his players: "There's always another level to get to. You can achieve it with hard work and determination."

In 2015, he placed that very challenge on himself. At the urging of Resetarits, Grove enrolled at the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy in South Carolina with the goal of becoming a Certified Professional Instructor.

"It was a week-long course, eight hours a day and included a lot of classroom work," Grove said. "I also had to display how I would coach different skills on the court and the methods I would use."

Grove earned a Level 2 certification.

"I can honestly say that even with that experience, I've learned the most about the game of tennis from Dan Resetarits (who successfully completed his certification at Van Der Meer in 1982)," he said. "He's been a mentor to me and I'm a better coach for it."

Grove also recognized Peter Hawk, who assisted him for many years. His current assistants include Andrea Morrisard, Jason Logue and Walberto Lopez, along with Resetarits.

Aside from coaching at the high school level, Grove, with the help of Raul Raymundo, a former head tennis professional at Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford, began holding summer tennis camps at Seneca Valley not long after he began coaching SV players. In 2014, the event merged with a camp held in Cranberry Township and Grove continues to instruct players there annually.

He has passed on his passion for tennis on to his two children, Eli (24) and Emily (22).

"My parents always taught me to find the joy in things," he said. "It's just my personality ... I like to share things with people.

"I still feel I can become a better coach and I strive to do that every year. Hopefully, my players would agree with that."