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Out of the Box

Jason Box, formerly of Millsaps College in Mississippi, is Swarthmore’s new head coach of men’s tennis, taking over for the retiring Mike Mullan.

“My goal is to build on the legacy Coach Mullan and our alumni have created,” he says. “The men in our program will compete with great sportsmanship and with respect of those who came before them.”

What do you love about tennis?

There are many things. Even though in college tennis you can be coached, the player primarily has to solve the problems of the match on their own. It is a battle between you and one other person, and you have to find a way to come out on top.

I love that tennis teaches you how to handle winning and losing. Each point you have to deal with the feeling of being a winner, or how to bounce back from the feeling of a loss. In other sports, you might miss a shot or score a goal, but in tennis you are constantly winning or losing. I think this allows for young people to learn how to respond to both the wins and the losses of daily life.

Lastly, I love that there is no clock. When you play a match, you are out there until it is over. You don’t have to worry about what is next in your life, you don’t have to worry about how much time you have left, all you have to do is focus on playing the next point. We all live very busy lives—playing a tennis match allows you to focus on thing and one thing only.


What excites you about the opportunities you see at Swarthmore?

Swarthmore has an outstanding academic reputation, something you need to have a top-tier tennis program in Division III. Students want a fantastic liberal arts education while playing competitive athletics; Swarthmore is a school where you can have both.

There is a great history within the Swarthmore tennis program. Coach Mullan is a legend, and it is an honor to follow him. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to continue the tradition of excellence that he and so many others built. I also can’t wait to get started with this current group of men. In speaking with them, they are passionate about improving, want to be challenged, and are excited to work hard. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming season.


How would you describe your tennis coaching style?

I am a very competitive person and I think this comes through in my coaching style. I am passionate about helping our players improve, something I hope they feel on a daily basis. I also like to have fun on the court. I know college life can be very stressful; I believe the time we have on the court together should decrease that stress, rather than contribute to it.


Who are some of the all-time tennis greats you most admire, and why?

I was a Sampras and Agassi fan growing up. I loved how clutch Sampras was, always coming up with a big shot when he needed it. I appreciated the resiliency Agassi showed during his career. Having success early, but then coming back to prove you should never count him out, was a lot of fun to experience. I’m a big Federer fan—what he does on a tennis court is unbelievable. His passion for the sport is something I admire and will miss when he decides to retire. Finally, Billie Jean King is obviously one of the most influential people in the history of our country. I feel lucky to be involved in the same sport she used as a platform to advocate for gender equality. I’m glad she is still playing an active role in our sport.


Anything else you’d like to say?

I’m excited to join such a strong athletic department. There has been a great amount of success in the last several years that has been noticed throughout the DIII world; I hope I can add to such a fantastic athletic staff.