Steve Mauro hid his love for tennis while growing up in Yonkers and The Bronx, New York. At seven years old, his mother took him to play on a court at a nearby park, which he kept a secret from others.
“I would play all the time and not tell my friends,” Mauro said. “I guess it wasn’t very cool, but it’s always a sport that I had a passion for. I studied it as much as I could, watched as many videos as I could, just really got into learning the game inside and out.”
Mauro’s love for tennis carried him to more than 200 wins as head coach for the Temple University men’s tennis team, and he has led the women’s team to earn All-Atlantic 10 awards 13 different times. He holds the Owls to a high standard and uses his coaching and competing experience to develop the program’s skills.
His 200th win for the men’s team came just last month, in a 5-2 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson University on March 8, and since then, Mauro has extended his wins to 206.
During his 17 years with the program, Mauro has coached 12 men’s players to All-Atlantic 10 honors and in the last 15 years, he’s had just six losing seasons.
When he came to Temple in 2005, Mauro focused on listening to his players’ opinions and implemented them into his coaching style. His friendliness and positive mindset drives both teams to success, said senior men’s player Louis Gorregues.
“He really likes when we finish points, when we’re aggressive,” Gorregues added. “He’s more oriented towards the mental aspects of the game. He also likes the fact that we have maybe a different mentality than other players. He says we’re ‘Temple TUFF.’ That’s what separates us from others.”
Mauro believes instilling values, like camaraderie and integrity, will give the players an easier transition upon joining the program, as well as finding a connection with each other. He’s formed a tight-knit squad through honest conversations about life, said senior men’s player Thibault Frumholz.
“[Mauro’s] impressive,” Frumholz said. “He tries to help on the court, but also outside. I knew we could have a closer relationship than with other coaches I had in the past.”
Mauro teaches his players to prioritize their academics as much as their tennis careers. Both programs have maintained a minimum 3.0 grade point average and a high graduation rate for the last 10 years, he said.
While coaching at Temple, Mauro uses his previous experiences as a tool to take each program to a higher level, he said.
But Mauro didn’t start his career playing competitive tennis. He played ice hockey while attending Fordham Preparatory School in The Bronx and Upsala College, in New Jersey but he continued with tennis on the side, competing in local tournaments and playing for fun.
After graduation, Mauro held many roles in the tennis world, including a full-time professional instructor at Fossler Cheltenham Tennis Center in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and director of tennis at Talamore Country Club in Ambler. Eventually, he took his knowledge from those jobs and became a coach.
“I also worked at a couple of different tennis clubs, but my real passion was coaching,” Mauro said. “I enjoyed doing that, and I think that helped me with my skills as a coach.”
Mauro had his first coaching stint at Ursinus College for two seasons before taking over Temple’s men’s team in 2005. He made an immediate impact, guiding the Owls to a 17-8 record that erased the memory of Temple’s last-place finish the previous season.
“I had to rebuild the thinking of making us a top team,” Mauro said. “We wanted to compete on the national level. We just kept working at it. Now, we have a reputation. The program has just gotten stronger and stronger every year I’ve been here.”
In 2008, after women’s tennis coach Traci Green resigned, Mauro assumed her role. He also led the team to a 17-win season in his first year, and he’s been coaching both squads ever since.
Juggling two teams at once is challenging, but Mauro praises the coaches around him for helping scout opponents for upcoming matches and research players for recruiting aspects, he said.
“All these different places I’ve worked have given me a lot of resources,” Mauro said. “That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been successful. As a coach, you have to be flexible and mix things up. I’m always trying different things out, doing a lot of research, talking to different people. I enjoy that aspect of it.”
Mauro has one match in mind that he won’t forget. In 2019, the Owls narrowly beat Tulane University, a team ranked No. 17 in the nation a few months prior, at the American Athletic Conference Championship in Orlando, Florida.
The victory gave the men’s tennis program a reputation as a competitive team, and it showed how much more he wants to achieve as coach, he said.
“I appreciate everything that Temple has done for me, it’s been a great experience here,” Mauro said. “As long as they have me, I plan on being here. I don’t see myself going anywhere. I want to continue to grow this program to be a top school in the country.”