Coach David Porter is described by BYU-Hawaii tennis athletes as inspirational, loving, and driven, qualities they say attribute to his ability of keeping the most consistent winning record in NCAA Division II tennis, according to the USPTA.
Coach Porter was the inaugural coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams. He has been BYUH men’s coach since 1982 and has coached the women’s team since 1994, coaching nine undefeated seasons, according to the BYUH Athletics’ website.
Hailey Daniels, a sophomore from Utah majoring in business, said, “The best way to describe Coach Porter is when I ask him how I am doing and he responds, ‘I am pleased, but never satisfied.’
“Nothing he says is ever something that won’t help you to progress into a better player. He made me more motivated than I have ever been.”
Porter said, “In order to help them, I have to be honest with them and give them that kind of feedback, but I certainly don’t feel that it is inappropriate to not help them to become better. If I wasn’t, I would be cheating them.”
Tyler Miller, a freshman from Utah studying business, and a men’s tennis player, said, “[Coach Porter] makes sure you get your priorities right and achieve your goals. He takes time to explain and help you to improve, bringing it all together to make you a better player.”
Athletes said Porter is not only a coach but also a teacher of life lessons. Porter agreed with their views. He said, “Learning is a process. If I don’t help them to continue to learn, then I am not really doing my job as a coach. If they think they already have the answers, then we are in big trouble.”
He continued, “My mission president, Paul Dunn, said, ‘When you are through learning, you are through,’ and so for them I have to help them understand there are always ways to improve. If they didn’t need to improve, they wouldn’t be here.”
Before Porter started coaching, he attended BYU with a basketball scholarship. He said he decided to go on a mission and was no longer eligible to play for the team, so he started to play tennis. Porter said he had played in high school and played the last two years of his college career.
Once Porter graduated, he became the director for physical fitness at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah and set up the athletic program that is currently being used by missionaries around the world today.
Porter said he wanted a change and felt BYUH was the best option. He started at BYUH as an assistant coach in basketball, and he also helped assist the women’s volleyball team.
He said he had the privilege to coach the men’s tennis team being the university’s first tennis coach, eventually taking over the women’s team as well. BYUH Athletics’ website reports him as “leading BYU-
Hawaii to the second-most national championships in Division II women’s tennis history.”
Porter said he feels he had learned a lot more throughout the years of his experience with coaching. He said, “I think the principles of coaching in terms of commitment to the players and working hard is something I brought since coming here.”
Porter had goals in mind when first starting as the coach for BYUH. He hoped to help athletes to learn life’s lessons through the vehicle of tennis. “Winning is a by-product, but the real purpose is to get an education, prepare for a career and a future, and to learn life’s lessons.
“Sports is one of the best vehicles to learn life’s lessons, putting you in challenging situations you can’t avoid. I think that is one of the real benefits, and that is one of the reasons I am sad to see it go,” said Porter.
Nannan (Dallas) Zhang, a senior from China majoring in accounting, and BYUH tennis player, said, “Coach Porter is strict, but he is also kind. He’s always helping us, not only on the court, but also even with studies or any problems. He is the first person I will ask for help if I have any problems.”
With Athletics coming to a close at the university, Zhang said she knows Coach Porter did everything he could to save the program, “but we have to accept that it is the final decision.”
BYUH made the decision a couple years ago to end Athletics. Coaches, including Porter, pushed to allow the players who were already a part of the team to play until they graduate.
“BYUH will no longer have an Athletics Department, but there is a reason behind it. I don’t understand it right now, but there is a lesson for me somewhere,” said Porter.
Coach Porter encourages BYUH students to watch students play and support the tennis team. He said he hopes everyone is able to enjoy what the university has, while it has it. The last tennis season begins mid-February and the first matches at home in Laie are scheduled for March 1, says the BYUH Athletics website.