For the past four seasons, Deo Sy received plenty of on-the-job training while looking to put himself in prime position to become a head tennis coach.
As an assistant coach during that stretch with the Glendale Community College women's tennis team, Sy gained valuable insight on topics ranging from organization to recruiting to helping players improve their overall game on the court.
Sy achieved a major career objective after being named the new women's tennis coach in July, and he's begun his quest to further elevate a program that qualified for the Southern California Regionals last season for the first time since 1999.
"I've done my best over the last four years to put in the time and effort on how to coach," said Sy, 34, who took over the program from Bob Donaghy. "I feel ready and I'm excited to take over this position.
"I think the transition will be relatively easy because I already know a lot of players. I have some big shoes to fill. Bob's been big to GCC tennis having coached the men's and women's teams. I have goals that I would like to see for the program and I think we will do well this year."
Donaghy, who coached the women's team the past four seasons after serving as the college's men's coach from 1978-2002, will serve as Sy's assistant and continue to be a mentor.
Glendale will begin its season with a nonconference road match at 1 p.m. Tuesday against College of the Sequoias.
The Vaqueros finished 9-8, 4-4 in the Western State Conference before advancing to the first round of the postseason. Glendale will feature four sophomores: Alexandra Amor, Ashley Sumudio, Stephanie Isidro and Seda Hakopian (Clark Magnet). They will be joined by freshmen Viktoriya Shumakova (Crescenta Valley High), Meghedi Mooradian (Hoover), Amy Shigenaga, Ayaka Takeuchi and Jessica Tzvetanova. Shumakova is a former All-Area selection.
"We had a solid team last season in getting to the playoffs, so I think we're going to be a strong team and I want to push us a bit further," said Sy, who played on the college's men's team in 2000 and 2001. "We want to be well-prepared and I think we even might have a little more depth now.
"I like our mixture of players. It sort of evens out between freshmen and sophomores. As long as they play to their full capabilities, then I'm satisfied."
Amor enjoyed a breakthrough season in doubles last season, as she teamed with Sofia Tavitian to reach the quarterfinals of the annual Ojai Valley Tournament, the final leg of the community college season.
Sy said Amor will be counted on to lead the Vaqueros again.
"She had a terrific season and got to the quarterfinals," Sy said. "The players can look up to Ally and the rest of the sophomores.
"Our goal is to make the playoffs and go a little deeper. I also definitely think we can contend [for the conference championship]. I think we will be in a lot of close matches. You want to feel the pressure in each competition. You can either embrace it or run away from it."
Amor said the Vaqueros don't expect a tough transition with Sy on board.
"We've learned a lot from him and he will push us harder to reach our goals," Amor said. "We've been working real hard at getting better and we have a strong lineup 1-6."
Following a stretch of five nonconference matches to begin the season, the Vaqueros will begin conference Feb. 18 with a home match against Bakersfield. They will play three of their first four conference matches at home.
Glendale will end the regular season March 27 against visiting Santa Barbara City College. The conference tournament will be held April 4-5 and 11 in Ventura. The 114th annual Ojai Invitational will be held April 24-27. The Ojai Invitational is the final event for junior college tennis, with the Southern California Regionals and state tournament taking place under the umbrella of the prestigious tournament.