The local tennis scene, and in particular the boys’ and girls’ programs at Shenendehowa, lost a mentor and friend when Gene Gould passed away last week.
“Everything he did in the program was for the kids,” said Bill MacArthur, who coached with Gould at the Clifton Park school for 40 years. “He had time for every kid who was interested in tennis.”
Gould, a 1963 graduate of Waterford-Halfmoon, and MacArthur, a 1965 Lansingburgh High graduate, came to Shenendehowa within two years of each other.
“He was two years ahead of me, but we’d known each other,” said MacArthur, who coached the boys’ JV team and currently coaches both the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams. “We came to Shen two years apart. Gene got there in 1968, and me in 1970.”
Gould started the tennis program at Shenendehowa in 1969, and coached through 2011, two years after he retired as an elementary school physical education teacher.
He also coached the girls’ varsity team, winning over 100 matches.
In that time, his boys’ teams won 14 Section II titles and seven indiviual championships. Tony Piro won a state singles title as a junior in 2003, and he and his twin brother, Mark, were anchors of a six-year run that saw the Plainsmen go 89-7.
When he stepped down, Gould had amassed over 500 wins, joining boys’ soccer coach Mike Campisi and girls’ basketball coach Ken Strube as Shenendehowa coaches to reach that figure.
Those numbers were secondary to Gould, according to MacArthur.
“Gene had heard about this coach in Colorado who had a very successful program and a ridiculous number of wins,” MacArthur recalled. “Gene looked into it and found out that the coach had a no-cut policy, He came back and said, `That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have a no-cut program.’
“That says a lot. He would work with any kid who wanted to play tennis. I can remember kids who weren’t the most talented, or were socially awkward, and he made sure they were as important as anyone on the team.”
Gould was also a gifted player and instructor, and also started the Clifton Park soccer program.
“His health started to fail, or else he would still be coaching,” said MacArthur, who also served as the Plainsmen’s head varsity hockey coach for 20 years. “He did it because he loved the sport of tennis, and he loved the kids he got to work with.”
Gould also served as the Section II boys’ tennis coordinator for the sport for 17 years.
“That’s a thankless job, being a sectional coordinator in any sport,” MacArthur said. “Especially once the tournament starts, you’ve got to be on top of everything.”