BYU men’s tennis coach uses Wimbledon experience to teach life lessons on and off court

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He could hear the sound of the crowd. Panic ensued. “I don’t want to be the first player to completely mess this up on worldwide television,” he thought. Within minutes Brad Pearce would be playing the game of his life — in front of not only royalty but also tennis fans from around the world.

Brad Pearce reacts to a volley during a tennis match. Brad Pearce  is one of only sixteen Americans in last twenty-three years to reach the quarterfinals in singles at Wimbledon.
Brad Pearce reacts to a volley during a tennis match. Pearce is one of only 16 Americans in the last 23 years to reach the quarterfinals in singles at Wimbledon. (Brad Pearce)

The pressure was on, but Pearce had prepared his whole life to play on Centre Court as a 1990 quarter finalist in the Wimbledon Tournament.

The head coach of BYU men’s tennis has always had a passion for the game, his family and helping others succeed.

In his book titled “Life Lessons from Centre Court at Wimbledon: Teaching Your Children to Become the Best They Can Be,” Pearce outlines 30 simple life lessons on topics such as  setting goals, making sacrifices and developing mental toughness. Pearce used his life experiences as a professional athlete and father to develop a handbook for parents to help their children reach their full potential in sports, academics, arts or in life.

Pearce previously spoke at BYU’s 2012 Education Week on this topic. After his presentation, an acquisitions editor from Cedar Fort Publishing approached him with an offer to publish a book that expanded on his presentation.

“I was grateful for the opportunity and thought it would be a good challenge,” Pearce said. “I wasn’t interested in writing a chronicle of my tennis career. I thought, ‘Can I use my experience to contribute and help others?’”

After two and a half years of taking notes and six months of writing, “Life Lessons from Centre Court at Wimbledon” is available to the public. And it isn’t a typical sports book.

Pearce keeps things interesting in the easy-to-read, 126-page book by telling stories and relating them to “lessons” learned in his life as a professional athlete and father. Through his experiences, readers see Pearce’s successes, failures and the need for a strong family environment.

Weller Evans, executive vice president of player services for the Association of Tennis Professionals, described Pearce as a thoughtful, goal-oriented man centered on the family.

“Brad was one of the more thoughtful athletes,” Evans said. “He would analyze on and off the court what needed to be done in order to become better as a professional and do it. He also has always been family first. He married early and had children young, but he still traveled with his family. That is something that I would not think that many of the young pros at the time could handle.”

Pearce had a successful career on the professional tour that included nine titles and his Wimbledon appearance. As a 24-year-old boy from Provo, Pearce — nicknamed the “Stormin’ Mormon” and the “Provo Powerhouse” — had worked his whole life to play in that match.

Jimmy Connors, a commentator during the quarterfinal match, said that for Pearce it was an “opportunity to play the No. 1 player in the world on the biggest center stage in tennis — it was like a dream come true.”

Brad Pearce serves the ball during his time representing the United States. He is currently the head coach of the BYU men's tennis team.
Brad Pearce serves the ball during his time representing the United States. He is currently the head coach of the BYU men’s tennis team. (Brad Pearce)

Ultimately Pearce lost to Ivan Lendl, then the No. 1 player in the world, in a four-set defeat. He continued to play in the professional tour and finished with a career-high ATP ranking of No. 71 in singles and No. 23 in doubles. His career included wins over professional players such as John McEnroe, Peter Fleming, Pete Sampras and Lendl.

To this day, Pearce is one of only 16 Americans in the last 23 years to reach the quarterfinals in singles at Wimbledon.

Since he he was named head coach at BYU 11 years ago, Pearce has developed a winning program both on and off the court. He has led his team to two second-place conference finishes, two MWC regular season titles and one MWC Championship title.

As both a coach and a father to six, Pearce uses his lessons learned to help those around him achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

In “Life Lessons from Centre Court at Wimbledon,” Pearce encourages parents to allow their children to set their own goals and to take on the role of an “alignment specialist” — a role in which parents support their children’s efforts in achieving their goals by making sure that their “ABCs” (actions, behaviors and choices) are in line to achieve their goals.

As head coach, Pearce is the “alignment specialist” for each player. At the beginning of every season, players determine their personal goals, and the team decides collectively what goals it would like to achieve that season.

“Coach Pearce is supportive, authoritative and expects a lot out of his players,” said junior tennis player Jeremy Bourgeois. “My time playing at BYU has been really great. I expect more out of myself and am achieving goals that I never thought I’d reach.”

In lesson four of Pearce’s book, he suggests that parents look for the unique talents their children might have. “In teaching and helping your children to become the best they can be, don’t spend a minute worrying about what they’re not good at,” Pearce wrote. He encourages parents to avoid “the temptation to protect them from failing or steering them away from something they like but may not be good at yet, because you never know. Instead, identify those areas where they have some unique talent or interest, and then encourage them to go for it.”

Pearce and the Utah Tennis Association have teamed up for a “Breakfast at Wimbledon” celebration at Coach Mike’s Liberty Park Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 11, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The event will begin with strawberries and cream, a Wimbledon favorite, and include a free tennis clinic, book signing and a celebrity exhibition game between Pearce and Gov. Gary Herbert. All proceeds from book sales at the event will be donated to the Utah Tennis Foundation.

For more information, see bradpearcelifelessons.com. “Life Lessons” is available for purchase at local bookstores, including the BYU Store, and Amazon.com for $11.99.

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