By Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
Thanks in large part to his work in turning the Pandas Tennis team into a national power, assistant coach Ivan Quintero has been named a co-recipient of the R.G. Glassford Award for Coaching.
The R.G. Glassford award is given out annually to either an assistant coach on one of the Golden Bears or Pandas teams, or a coach in the community that benefits Golden Bears and Pandas.
Quintero joined the University of Alberta’s tennis program in 2013, working with both the Golden Bears and Pandas early in his tenure. However, with the men’s and women’s championships switching to separate championships and venues in 2016, Quintero has taken on a primary role with the Pandas.
Since 2016, the Pandas record and the championships they have accumulated has been nothing short of remarkable.
Over the past three seasons, the Pandas have won three Western Canadian Championships, also capturing the Tennis Canada University National Championship in 2017 and 2019.
2019 National Champion Pandas Tennis Team
“Ivan has a great passion for the varsity tennis program and this is apparent by the amount of personal time that he devotes to the athletes and the program,” said Golden Bears and Pandas head coach Russ Sluchinski. “He has developed a great relationship with the athletes, he really cares about them and this is shown through his day to day actions. His impact on the varsity tennis program cannot be understated.”
Quintero has been named the Tennis Canada Female Team Coach of the Year twice, including last August, when the Pandas captured their national title.
He is viewed as one of the sports leading experts in physical development, and has become known for his creative and demanding warmups.
Quintero with Bears and Pandas assistant coach Carson Bell
“Ivan has had a tremendous impact on my mental game. For the past 4 years, he has made me feel more confident in myself and in the team when going into competitions,” said Pandas captain, and two-time national champion Alina Jurca. “He has also had a big impact on my training quality and has motivated me to put more into every practice and every match. Alongside that, whenever I had a problem with any aspect of my tennis game he has always volunteered his time to help me.”
From 2016-2019, the Pandas have gone 23-1, with their only team loss coming in the 2018 national final. This season, the Pandas cruised to another undefeated season, beating UBC 5-2 in the Western Regional Championship in Edmonton in early March.
“Ivan’s calm confident demeanour is a big asset during matches when anxiety and emotions run high. He is able to keep the athletes calm and get them refocused on what is important at that moment.” continued Sluchinski.
Because of that calm demeanour, coupled with the Pandas confidence developed over the past three and half seasons under Quintero, they will head to the national tournament this August has tournament favourites.
“He’s one of the most positive coaches I have ever come across during my tennis career, and it’s had a real impact on the Pandas,” continued Jurca. “He has made our practices very high in quality. We’re always working on something new or doing new and innovative drills. Ivan takes time out of his day to help us out at our practices and helps us all prepare for nationals.”