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University of Missouri

Sasha Fierce

MU tennis’s Coach Schmid takes on a dual identity: skilled athlete/coach and savvy lawyer/law professor.

Coach Schmid portrait

Sasha Schmid coaches Mizzou’s women’s tennis team and teaches sport law. Photo by Rob Hill.

The daughter of a former baseball big leaguer, MU tennis coach Sasha Schmid watched closely as her dad managed the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers and coached on the staffs of other clubs. The late Steve Boros was an erudite English scholar who used a computer to crunch stats before it was commonplace and endorsed balancing athleticism with education.

So when Schmid graduated in 1996 from the University of Iowa, where she starred in tennis, it seemed only right to earn a law degree while helping to coach the Hawkeyes team.

“Dad believed in athletics making you a better, well-rounded person,” says Schmid, now a Mizzou coach whose fifth season here began with her squad’s Jan. 23 win against Bradley. “He also talked a lot about balancing the art and science of sport, and I try to do that, too.”

When she’s not coaching the seven women on the Tiger tennis roster, Schmid teaches sport law online in the positive coaching psychology master’s program. The class attracts students of all ages from across the nation, many of whom are high school and college coaches.

Maintaining positivity is paramount in the SEC, where the NCAA’s toughest competition can grind down even the best athletes. Eight of the conference’s 14 teams finished in the top 25 in 2015, and Vanderbilt won the national championship.

“Fans might not realize when you watch SEC tennis, you’re watching athletes who could be on TV in grand slam tournaments someday,” says Schmid, whose program finished 11th nationally in attendance this past season. “Winning the SEC tournament is more challenging than winning the national tournament.”

This season Mizzou returns all of its top players, led by senior No. 1 Kelli Hine (New Braunfels, Texas). Schmid praises the team’s maturity, and she expects to improve on the Tigers’ 2015 record of 9-18.

“A lot of these kids think about playing tennis beyond college, so they test the waters in the SEC to see if they can compete,” Schmid says.