Two times Andres Pedroso tried to walk away from the sport he loves.
Two times he came right back.
Now Virginia men’s coach Brian Boland hopes his top assistant isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
The former Duke star has had a huge impact on the program since coming aboard in 2010.
“When I was looking for an assistant coach, I had some big shoes to fill with Tony Bresky,” said Boland, referring to the Wake Forest coach, who was recently named ACC Coach of the Year. “Andres just struck me as someone who had the background and the experience both in tennis and in life that I was looking for to be able to help develop these young men both on and off the court.”
There can’t be too many coaches with a resume like the 34-year-old Pedroso’s.
The bilingual Miami native has been a college All-American, a successful professional player, coached for the United States Tennis Association and worked on Wall Street.
“He’s been a big asset to our program from Day 1,” said Boland, whose team hosts Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. “I believe the program is very fortunate to have two head coaches.”
Pedroso, whose official title is associate head coach — he was promoted to the role in 2012 — was born in New York City and moved to Miami at the age of 3.
After a standout career at Duke — one in which he led the Blue Devils to four straight ACC titles — Pedroso rose to as high as No. 271 on the pro tour.
Pedroso then followed in the footsteps of family members who were in the financial world and joined Wall Street firm Bear Stearns, working on the institution equity sales desk.
“That was interesting, but every time the market was slow, I was on ATPTour.com,” said Pedroso, smiling. “The game was calling me back.”
Pedroso decided to take a job coaching up-and-coming junior player Rhyne Williams, a Knoxville native who, coincidentally, was the nephew of University of Virginia Foundation CEO Tim Rose.
But after a year, Pedroso left Williams — who went on to star at Tennessee (he’s now on the pro tour) — to start his own investment firm with a family friend in Miami.
A year after that, Pedroso received an offer from the USTA to coach players who were born in 1995.
“It was something that I had always wanted to do,” Pedroso said. “It was kind of like a dream job for me.”
That is, until Boland came calling.
“Honestly, I wasn’t looking for a college job,” Pedroso said. “I was pretty happy at the USTA.”
Pedroso says Boland’s sales pitch won him over.
“He wanted to form his own little player developmental program here in Charlottesville,” Pedroso recalled. “We could individualize everything and make it like a little touring pro training system — and that seemed really interesting to me.”
Since joining Virginia, one of Pedroso’s biggest contributions has been developing Julen Uriguen.
A top junior player from Guatemala, Uriguen initially struggled in his transition to college.
But when Pedroso replaced Bresky, things suddenly started clicking for Uriguen.
Uriguen, now a senior captain, is currently having his best season.
“We have that Latin connection,” Uriguen said. “The fact that we both speak Spanish — it’s just easier for us to communicate both on and off the court.
“It’s helped me really develop as a player and also off the court with my mental game, and to make myself a better person.”
Pedroso’s time on the pro tour, no doubt, is paying big dividends for Virginia on the recruiting trail. After all, just about every player who comes to UVa has the goal of becoming a pro.
And then there’s the insight that Pedroso has been able to give to former Virginia players like Drew Courtney, Santiago Villegas and Steven Eelkman Rooda, who all chose careers in the financial world. Courtney is working at Merrill Lynch in Washington. Villegas is at J.P. Morgan in Miami. Rooda is at UVIMCO here in Charlottesville.
“What I tell them is that tennis can help you so much because when you get into the heat of the day in the finance world, when the market is shooting up or shooting down and clients are calling and complaining or are calling to say thank you and are overjoyed — you’ve got to stay composed and just stay cool,” Pedroso said. “Dealing with the pressure on the tennis court, by yourself, with no teammates, that’s going to prepare you for that.”
At a recent Saturday morning practice, Pedroso was all smiles. It’s obvious he has enjoyed his time at Virginia.
Chances are you won’t be seeing Pedroso, who considers Boland and volunteer assistant coach Scott Brown two of his best friends, sitting behind a desk in a suit and tie again anytime soon.
In the years to come, Pedroso will likely be a hot commodity for any school looking for a new head coach.
While that's definitely something he'd like to pursue at some point, Pedroso says he and his wife, Erika, are very happy in Charlottesville. In fact, they’re currently building a house in the area.
“The roots are coming down,” Pedroso said. “I’m looking to stay here for a long time.”
The Pedroso File
Favorite movie: “Meet Joe Black”
Favorite pro player as a kid: Emilio Sanchez
Favorite music: Salsa
Favorite TV show: “Morning Joe”
If you could visit one place: The White House