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Tennis

Coaching Is a Family Affair at Osbourn and Potomac

By Dan Bowman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page PW12

Glen Strickland saw right through the April Fool's joke.

Despite the Osbourn girls' tennis team's 6-0 win over Freedom on April 1, the school's new girls' coach sought consolation from Strickland, the longtime boys' coach who also had directed the girls' squad for the past four years.


Osbourn Coach Katie Strickland, left, and Potomac Coach P.J. Regan gather their players before the start of a girls' match April 13. (Photos Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

"We lost," she told him. "I don't know what happened, but they had a bunch of foreign exchange students and they caught us off guard."

Strickland didn't buy the story for a second.

"I know those girls," Strickland said. "I know who they've lost to."

And Strickland knew the other coach even better. She is his daughter Katie, who joined the coaching ranks this season in the wake of the Virginia High School League decision to move girls' tennis to the spring. With both boys and girls playing in the same season, one coach could no longer handle both teams.

Katie Strickland has done well with the team she inherited from her father, as the Osbourn girls are 8-0, the same record held by the elder Strickland's boys. For a program accustomed to tennis success, Osbourn's gaudy records aren't as remarkable as, say, those of Cedar Run District foe Potomac, where P.J. Regan and son Josh have helped reverse the Panthers' fortunes.

P.J., a former dance coach at Potomac, has guided the girls' team to a 4-5 record this season. Before she took over in 2004, the Panthers had gone four straight seasons without winning a match.

Josh took over the boys' team last year as well, and after a winless 2004 campaign, the Panthers are 4-4 to start this season. The 32-year-old knows a thing or two about winning, serving as an assistant for the highly successful boys' basketball team.

"I volunteered to coach the boys' team to give them stability," Josh Regan said. "They had gone through a number of different coaches over the past few years. To get to work and coach with my mom is an added bonus."

Katie Strickland, 23, feels the same way about working with her father. A Spanish teacher at Osbourn, Katie hopes to earn a reputation similar to the one held -- on and off the court -- by her father, a government and English teacher.

"Everybody loves him and everyone wants to be around him," Katie Strickland said. "If there was somebody else coaching before, I don't think I would've been able to take over this year."

Glen Strickland believes the coaching transition has gone smoothly so far. Both he and his daughter share a laid-back attitude and a dry sense of humor, he said, but Glen believes his daughter's more contemporary approach and age have helped set her apart.

"She can speak to the girls much more directly and relieve anxiety and stress where it's needed," Glen Strickland said.

The Regans also take similar approaches to coaching, going so far as to hold combined practices.

"Both of our number ones have a hard time finding anyone to match up against in practice," Josh Regan said. "We just run our practices simultaneously and let Kyle [Carter] and Kristina [Romankova] play against each other."

And despite the fact that they see each other many times a day -- in addition to practice, the two eat lunch together -- P.J. insists she and Josh haven't gotten sick of each other yet.

"We're not in each other's business," she said. "We're close, but we're not necessarily dependent on each other."


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