Coach Helvey celebrates 700 wins

Helvey

Jacob Jardel

Staff Editor

When men’s and women’s tennis coach James Helvey started coaching, he set many goals for himself.

However, on Feb. 22, he reached one milestone he did not plan on when he started coaching over 20 years ago. When the Lady Aggies tennis team defeated Metro State 7-2, Helvey earned his 700th career win.

According to Helvey, the credit for this milestone goes to his players, past and present.

“They’re the ones that did it,” he said. “Yes, I did pick them and recruit them; but they’re the ones that did all the work, and I give them all the credit for that.”

He also credited the team for the celebration that occurred upon earning number 700.

“My team this past week had a great time with that. They wanted to celebrate. They dumped a big jug of ice water on me,” Helvey said.

He had no qualms about the team’s choice of celebration, a jovial pay back for grueling practices.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “As many laps and miles I’ve let them run and as many sprints they’ve run, that gives them a little fun back at me. I’m a good sport, and I enjoy it.”

Helvey, who started his career at Texas Wesleyan University, reached this milestone behind consistent teams throughout the years.

“I’ve always wanted to be consistent,” he said. “I don’t necessarily have to be number one at the top all of the time, but I want my team to consistently be at the top or near the top without falling. That was always very important to me, and I’ve always applied that to myself every year for 24 years.”

Helvey took pride in his consistency both on the tennis courts and in recruiting.

“I’ve been able to play about a thousand matches, and I’ve got 700 of them in my back pocket. It means I’m consistent. And I’m proud of myself for being able to find good people,” he said.”

After reaching this milestone, Helvey is close to reaching a goal he wanted for himself at the start of his career.

“I always told myself, when I do retire some day from coaching, I want to be able to say I’ve got twice as many wins as I have losses. I’m right about that ratio.”

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Though he mentioned that all of his wins en route to this accomplishment were important, he did acknowledge one match in 2008 as his favorite.

“The number one match that will stand out to me was when we were ranked sixth in the nation and we were going against Abilene Christian, who was ranked number ten or eleven in the nation,” Helvey said. “They had a really good team. We played them in the conference final, and we beat them 5-0 on their court in their facility in front of their fans.”

“That is a very tough place to play,” he said. “Of all the places I’ve played in my 24 years, the ACU Tennis Facility is the toughest to play. We took them down and took them out. That was a great day.”

Despite looking back on fond memories, Helvey said his focus for the future is still on the match ahead of him.

“I’ve had somebody joke with me about getting to 800,” he said. “Then someone said to me that they want to see me get to 1000. That’s another decade away probably, and I’m not even sure what I may even be doing then. I just want to keep winning.”

For the long run, Helvey mentioned that he has met almost all of his goals that he set. However, there are two that he wants to meet before he retires.

“I’ve met almost every one of my goals that I’ve set over 20 years ago,” he said, “but I’ve always wanted to be able to take two teams to nationals at the same time. I’d love to be able to accomplish that this year. Also, [I want] to have both teams ranked number one in the region at the same time.”

“Other than that, [I want to] keep bringing in good people and just enjoying coaching tennis and having fun,” Helvey said.

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