Syracuse’s ‘X-factor’ is Maxwell professor and volunteer assistant Len Lopoo

first_img Published on March 29, 2018 at 9:46 am Contact KJ: kjedelma@syr.edu | @KJEdelman The ball landed on the line, and Syracuse volunteer assistant coach Len Lopoo was sure of it. But the umpire called it out of bounds.Lopoo, a coach who prefers to not be in the spotlight, jumped from his seat and yelled at the top of his lungs.“Are you kidding me?” Lopoo said to the umpire. “That was right on the line. That was really right on the line.”Sophomore Miranda Ramirez, who was up 4-2 in the first set of her second singles match, threw up her hands in shock but let Lopoo do the talking. After the one-sided shouting continued for almost a minute, the umpire told Lopoo to “chill out.” The call stayed in favor of Wake Forest’s then-No. 88 Eliza Omirou.Associate head coach Shelley George’s husband turned his body away from the altercation and faced the crowd.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I’ve never seen him that mad before,” he said with a smirk to nearly 30 people watching at Drumlins Country Club.After the two cooled down, Ramirez flashed a smile in the direction of Lopoo and grabbed the ball to hold serve.“He had my back,” Ramirez said after the match, “… like he always does.”Courtesy of SU AthleticsLopoo, who declined to be interviewed for this story, has become No. 34 Syracuse’s (12-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast) “X-factor” — as head coach Younes Limam put it — during home matches and behind the scenes. His instincts with in-match decisions and willingness to compete alongside players during practice set him apart from other volunteer coaches, Limam said.A teenage Lopoo played tennis at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he eventually ranked nationally as a top-20 junior player. After four team and three individual state championships in high school, Lopoo joined the tennis team at Louisiana State University, per Lopoo’s Cuse.com bio page.Following the end of his collegiate tennis career, Lopoo received his master’s and PhD at the University of Chicago. He’s been a professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs since 2003. In 2011, he joined the SU’s women’s tennis team as a volunteer coach. But he isn’t an ordinary volunteer coach, Limam said.Limam was hired as head coach in 2014 to change the culture of Syracuse’s program. One of the first things he did when he arrived at Syracuse was get lunch with Lopoo, who had spent the last two seasons coaching SU.The two met at Pascale Italian Bistro, a restaurant connected to Drumlins Country Club, the site of the Orange’s home matches. They talked about everything: family, team philosophy, expectations and changes to recruiting strategy. Limam didn’t know any of the players he would coach entering the 2015-16 season, so he asked Lopoo to analyze each of their playing styles to get a better sense of his new team.Limam left that conversation with a good feeling.“I knew we saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things,” Limam said. “It was not a question to keep him on our coaching staff.”Now four years into his partnership with Limam, Lopoo puts his tennis skills to use in morning practices. Two to three times a week, Lopoo will play several sets of singles and doubles against players, including Ramirez.“He’s a bit tricky,” Ramirez said, “He doesn’t play like anyone else on the team. (He) slices his backhand a lot, has a kick serve, plays baseline-to-baseline. It’s usually a pretty even match between us, but it helps a lot.”Lopoo points out subtle strategic adjustments to the players he competes with in practice, but while coaching them, his demeanor adapts to specific situations.“He has the instinct to know what players need,” Limam said. “Usually it’s a quick decision, it’s natural.”For Ramirez, the player Lopoo most often shadows during matches this season, positivity and reinforcement help her get to a “perfect mental state,” she said. In tight positions, like her third-set tiebreak against Omirou on March 18, Lopoo insists that Ramirez is the better player on the court and convinces her to trust her shots and instincts, she said.On gameday, each of SU’s three coaches generally hones in on a specific doubles and singles match. While Lopoo is just a volunteer assistant, Limam trusts his decision-making and game plan “100 percent.”“He helped me when I first got here,” Limam said, “and now he helps (the players) a lot. He’s a big part of what we do here.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Acheson hails character of team ahead of Final

first_imgThe Premier County defeated Cork to set up a meeting with Kerry in Killarney on Sunday.Tipp resisted a huge amount of pressure late on in the historic win over the Rebels.Acheson has praised his team-mates for the way in which they dealt with the setbacks in that match. Our build-up to live commentary on the big match will begin at 1.30 on Sunday afternoon – coverage will be brought to you in association with Tipperary Co-Op Supervalu, Tipperary Town.last_img