Longwood’s Medina Alvarez steps down from post

Published 2:01 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2021

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Longwood Director of Tennis Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez stepped down from his position at the end of June to pursue other professional opportunities, Longwood Athletics Director Michelle Meadows announced recently.

Medina Alvarez, who graduated from Longwood this past May with a degree in business administration, joined the Longwood athletics department as head men’s tennis coach in January of 2018 and was elevated to head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs as director of tennis in August of 2018. While coaching both teams, he also pursued his bachelor’s degree from Longwood and graduated magna cum laude in less than four years.

“It is with incredible gratitude and, albeit, some sadness, to see coach Medina Alvarez step away from coaching to pursue new professional opportunities,” Meadows said. “He has been instrumental in the development of our men’s and women’s tennis programs in every facet – academically, athletically and in the empowerment of citizen leaders – throughout his tenure these last four years.

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“Both our men’s and women’s teams enjoyed historic success under Jhonnatan, but what has been most impressive is how he has built the Longwood tennis culture into one of inclusion, camaraderie and excellence since he arrived in 2018. Jhonnatan led daily with passion, purpose and a fierce love and competitive spirit for our student-athletes and the game.”

In his four years in Farmville, Medina Alvarez coached some of the top players in program history, including all-time singles and doubles wins leader Amadeo Blasco who broke nearly every school record under Medina Alvarez’s tutelage. His Longwood men’s teams amassed a record of 39-32 during his tenure, while the Longwood women went 22-25 after he took over that program prior to the 2018-19 season.

Three of Medina Alvarez’s four Longwood men’s teams finished with winning records, including his 2017-18 and 2018-19 squads that amassed matching 13-9 records for the program’s first back-to-back double-digit-win seasons of the Big South era. His first Longwood team – led by a record-breaking 30-win campaign from Blasco – reached the semifinals of the Big South Championship for the first time in program history.

Meanwhile Longwood’s women’s teams also flourished under Medina Alvarez’ leadership, finishing with winning records in two of his three seasons at the helm. His 2018-19 team went 12-10 overall for the second-most wins of the Division I era.

“I woke up every morning grateful for the opportunity I had at Longwood,” Medina Alvarez said. “To my players, I thank them so much. Tennis is an individual sport, and sometimes we aren’t able to learn in detail from one another. But that was my biggest thing as a coach; I wanted everyone to know that regardless of their background or tennis skill, they could always give something to the people around them. That’s not just in tennis, it’s in society too. I hope every player I coached at least takes that away from playing at Longwood.”

Medina Alvarez’s Longwood teams were known for their diversity, with players hailing from five different continents. This past season, the men’s and women’s rosters represented 13 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Venezuela, where Medina Alvarez grew up in Caracas. Eleven of the 16 players on the 2020-21 rosters earned president’s list or dean’s list recognition this past spring, as well.

“I am proud that Longwood tennis has become known for the things that were important to me and our players – discipline, leadership, accountability, and most importantly, the respect for cultures, ethnicity and knowing that we are all the same,” Medina Alvarez said.

“In our program, there are no colors, no backgrounds – just human beings that are trying to care for each other and learn through the experience of college, athletics, and adapting to a new country. Whether we were playing, practicing, having lunch on our trips, or just spending time with each other, it was an amazing experience.”

A former professional international tennis player who competed in the Davis Cup, was ranked in the top 400 of the ATP World Rankings, and was the 2015 USTA Men’s National Champion, Medina Alvarez received numerous awards this past year from both Longwood University and Longwood’s student-athlete population. Among those was the Longwood College of Business & Economics (CBE) SNVC Citizen Leader Award, which goes to a member of the CBE senior class who has demonstrated education, values and service, and the Longwood Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Coach of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the coach who has impacted student-athletes in an extraordinary way, either on or off the field.

Along with his teams’ success on the court, Longwood tennis also pulled off a sweep of the athletics department’s Cormier Awards for Team Academic Excellence in 2020. Both the men and women earned the highest cumulative grade point averages of any Longwood team during both the fall and spring 2020 semesters. Both teams also earned the highest GPAs in the department in the spring of 2021, with the men earning a department-best and program-record 3.60 and the women a 3.57.