Mortera: Not Just a Coach, but an Advocate Too

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Mortera: Not Just a Coach, but an Advocate Too

Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics

By Adam Cochran, Sports Writer

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Ric Mortera was hired as the head coach of the University of Utah women’s tennis team this past summer. Mortera is from Portland, Oregon, and after high school, he headed to Eugene to play tennis at the University of Oregon. He played four years at Oregon, after which he got into coaching on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour. He coached two years on the tour before getting into coaching on a collegiate level. Mortera started as a volunteer assistant at Illinois for two years. Following the two years at Illinois, he spent a year as an assistant at Purdue before returning to Illinois as an assistant.

After his second stint at Illinois, Mortera was hired on as associate head coach at Texas Tech, a position that he held for three seasons. The Lady Raiders experienced unprecedented success in Mortera’s three years in Lubbock. This includes two Sweet 16 runs and a visit to the Elite Eight. Following the successful stay at Texas Tech, Mortera was given the head job at Fresno State, a position that he held for a year before being signed on as the head coach at Utah.

“I love [Utah]. The people are great. The scenery is unbelievable,” Mortera said. “Waking up and going to work every morning — everything about it is fantastic.”

When asked about his favorite part about being in Utah, Mortera said it’s the people. He then added that seeing the mountains outside breathe life into everything, making them another favorite thing about Utah.

Getting to Know Coach Mortera

Often, people only think of coaches as simply a coach, but there is more to Mortera. Tennis is a huge part of his life, but is there more to Mortera? I asked him hard-hitting questions in an attempt for Utah fans to get to know the coach.

What are your hobbies?

“I actually just took up skiing, finally. Probably good timing last year — I went out for my second and third time, took a lot of falls. I’m excited to test it out here and see if I can make it a true hobby.”

What kind of music do you like?

“I’ve really evolved throughout the years. I definitely grew up during the whole rap battles between West and East coast, when Tupac and Biggie were around. It’s funny, as I’ve gotten older and I lived in Texas, I got into country a little bit. I’ve got a great mix. Anytime you’re in a car with a young team like this, you’re going to hear all sorts of new pop stuff and you kind of have to learn to love it. That’s an interesting part of the job.”

If you were trapped on a deserted island and could only take one book, what would it be and why?

“‘Playing for Pizza’ by John Grisham. I have always been into his whole legal thriller thing. It was kind of different. It was a sport book. It’s fiction. It follows this guy and his football journey and sports journey in general. I think it was a lot different for him and it was a terrific read. Keeps the mind going. It was a little bit different, but it’s a fun one.”

Back to the Tennis

Mortera inherited a young Utes team that he has been working with for about four months. He says they are a great group and he’s enjoyed getting to know the team.

“They have a great sense of humor,” Mortera said. “We’ve got some personalities on this team. They are not only fun to work with, they are fun to be around off the court or when we’re traveling. It makes a really great environment. Not only are they great tennis players with a lot of potential, they are great people as well. I’m really excited to grow with them.”

Mortera is excited to get to work more with the members of the team. He says they are greatly improved since he’s come to Utah. Coaching is a difficult but rewarding job. There are many demands and a lot of stress involved. There are also many rewarding aspects of the job.

When asked about his favorite part of coaching, Mortera said, “Seeing the players grow, seeing them grow from their freshman year to becoming leaders by the time they graduate. Seeing the process along the way. Seeing the ups and downs they go through and how much better off they are for it. Going through that whole thing is one of the greatest joys of the profession.”

A Note to Ute Fans

Mortera urges fans and students to watch the Utes play. Sports like tennis need support just as much as the major sports. Mortera also claimed that it will be great for the team and the fans to watch the tennis team compete. He also promised that it’s going to be a great time in the coming years.

 

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