Ricker steps down as CdM boys' head coach

Brian Ricker has resigned as the head coach of the Corona del Mar High boys' tennis team, he said Monday.

Ricker said he plans to stay on as CdM girls' head coach. The reason for stepping down from the boys' position was simple.

"I just thought that it's gotten unmanageable for one person," he said of coaching both programs. "I think that both programs at this point, because of all the interest and success, would benefit from having separate head coaches. I'm going to focus on the girls ... I don't want to walk away from the boys' team. I'll certainly apply and want to be the assistant coach for the boys. That would be less time for me but I'd still be a part [of the team], if the coach is interested in having me.

"I would also want the new coach to be my assistant coach on the girls' team. I think the students would be well-served that way."

The Sea Kings' season ended Wednesday at The Claremont Club with a 13-5 loss to league rival University in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match. The next day, Ricker had a meeting with the players in the CdM boys' program to tell them the news.

Team parent Jocelyn Downing, whose son Chaz was one of the top players on the team as a freshman this past season, said the news was a bit unexpected.

"I think [the players] were really surprised," Jocelyn Downing said. "Here they had such a good year. Chaz was shocked and kind of bummed ... it's kind of the unknown now."

Assistant coach Daniel Patterson also will no longer be coaching as he takes on a new position at CdM. But Ricker, a walk-on coach, said he is confident the boys' program will be in good hands.

"I can think of three or four very good candidates off the top of my head," he said. "I'm not going to list any of them, but if I wasn't confident they were going to able to find a very good coach I wouldn't have stepped down."

Ricker, 51, has been the CdM girls' coach since 2004. He led the CdM girls to an undefeated season in 2006, when the Sea Kings captured the Division 1 title.

The past four years, Ricker also coached the boys, amassing a record of 72-17. This year was Ricker's best boys' squad, as CdM went 21-4 and was ranked No. 2 in Division 1 for most of the year. The Sea King boys made the CIF finals for the first time since 2003.

But being the head coach of both the girls and boys became a lot to ask, he said. About eight weeks ago he made his decision to focus on the girls' program.

"In the last couple of years I feel like I've gotten into being more of a manager," he said. "I want to be in the middle. I like to teach, especially the doubles kids, and I like to be feeding balls into drills. Everything has gotten so big that I've just become a manager, and not so much of a hands-on coach. I'd kind of like to get back to that.

"I thoroughly enjoy coaching high school tennis. There's nothing else I want to do in life. I'm going to coach until I die, basically. I've enjoyed [coaching] the boys and I've enjoyed the girls. At this point, it's too much, so I had to pick one."

Ricker said he hopes a new boys' coach will be in place by the summer, to help ensure a smooth transition with off-season training. The boys now have more numbers than in the past, since CdM now has a frosh/soph team and the program only had three seniors this year.

CdM Athletic Director Don Grable said he'd like to get the hiring process done as quickly, yet effectively, as possible.

Grable said he'll be meeting with the school district Tuesday, and more information about the position will be forthcoming. Interested applicants can send a letter of interest and résumé to Grable at dgrable@nmusd.us.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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