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From Student Manager to Head Coach, Chen Completes Climb

As word began to trickle out, Grant Chen’s cell phone began buzzing even more than usual.

Players, colleagues, friends and family were calling, texting, emailing and messaging on social media to congratulate Chen.

Grant Chen is SMU's New Head Coach

The longtime UCLA staffer was named the head coach for the Southern Methodist University men’s program last week.

At last count, Chen had received correspondence from nearly 700 people, a clear sign of his standing in the tennis community. The affable and respected Santa Barbara, California native took time to respond to every single message personally.

“The last few days have been really special and really emotional in a lot of ways,” Chen said. “It all happened really fast and not lot of people knew this was even on the table. But it was an opportunity that I think came my way for a reason, and I am extremely grateful.”

Chen is the 10th head coach in SMU program history, which dates back to 1947. He is replacing Carl Neufeld, who stepped down in May after 25 years at the helm. The Mustangs finished 9-18 overall, including 0-6 in the American Conference, this past season.

Chen, 36, was contacted by SMU athletic director Rick Hart about the opening once he arrived back in Los Angeles following UCLA’s run in the NCAA Championships.

“It was an unexpected call. We had one conversation and that led to about 12, and the next thing you know I am on a flight to Dallas,” Chen said. “I really had no idea what was going to happen once I got there, but it was the most wonderful and smooth experience. It didn’t even feel like an interview.”

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