Born and raised in southern France, Sylvain Malroux was always intrigued by the United States.

A young tennis player, Malroux trained at French Federation Sports-Etudes, the No. 1 school in the country for elite athletes, before having a go at a pro career. When that stalled, he took a trip to the United States in spring 1999 to learn more about the country’s tennis system. He visited a number of schools, Clemson among them.

But given his age — 25 years at the time — he wasn’t eligible to play at the Division I level given his age. Malroux did, however, meet Clemson women’s head coach Nancy Harris, helping her recruit some players he knew in France.

“From there, she said, ‘Well, if you want to be my assistant a year from now, the job can be yours,'” Malroux recalled.

In the interim, Malroux enrolled at Anderson College, a small Division II school a 20-minute drive from Clemson. He starred there for two seasons, leading the team to back-to-back regional titles and Sweet 16 berths while earning MVP of the Conference Carolinas. And when his eligibility was exhausted, he joined Clemson’s staff in 2001, reaching two Final Fours with the team. That eventually paved the way to Nevada, which gave him his first head-coaching job in 2005.

During his first stint at Nevada, Malroux coached the Wolf Pack women’s tennis team from 2005-11.

“I could see the potential,” Malroux said. “I saw all the construction happening on campus and I said, ‘Well, it’s going to be wonderful.’ At the time, our AD (Cary Groth) was a former tennis coach as well. I figured, ‘Good things are going to happen.’ Unfortunately, what happened in 2006 with the recession, our (on-campus) tennis courts were put on hold, and I have to say that was very, very challenging.”

Making things more difficult for Malroux was the fact he also coached the Nevada men’s tennis team his final two seasons in Reno, at first being told it’d only be for one semester before the gig was extended. That coupled with the lack of an on-campus tennis center and the fact Malroux’s wife, a pharmacist, had a job opportunity in the Bay Area caused him to leave the Wolf Pack for the women’s tennis job at San Jose State in 2011. There, he inherited a bottom-run program. By 2013, his team had won a conference championship, reaching the first NCAA Tournament in program history.

In 2015, he was pitched on a return to Nevada. This time from then-Wolf Pack athletic director Doug Knuth, who, like Groth, was a college tennis player. The sales pitch from the Wolf Pack this time included him running the school’s men’s program.

“One of the criteria for me to come back was to make sure we had some tennis courts,” Malroux said.

Nevada made the promise of on-campus tennis courts, and the six-court McArthur Tennis Center opened in September 2016, one year after Malroux returned …….


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