The Secret: UW men’s tennis coach Matt Unger resigns to direct MVP Clement Ceedek as a professional

For weeks, Matt Unger and Clement Cheedich kept a secret.

Unger, the longtime University of Washington men’s tennis coach, decided to step down at the end of the season after the highly successful 28 years he had elevated the program to national prominence.

But that was half the news they kept to themselves for now. The other part: Anger’s next step as personal trainer for Chidekh, the No. 1 player in the UW and one of the best players in the country, will be when he turns professional in the summer.

The revelation wasn’t going to be allowed into the world until the UW season ended, so as not to be a distraction. The Husky then extended Anger’s tenure — and inadvertently secret — with a sensational charge in the Pac-12 Finals that included a upset in top-ranked Arizona. Despite losing to USC on the Championship Tour, Husky’s underperforming performance earned them an unexpected spot in the NCAA Championship – Day 22 of Anger’s UW career.

Only after the Husky lost their inaugural NCAA game to Pepperdine did Anger finally tell the team that he was stepping down. And now he has another job as a Husky coach before embarking on his new life — training Chidekh in the NCAA Men’s Singles Championship in Champaign, Illinois, starting Monday.

It will be an emotional time for both of them. Anger, 58, will leave the school he dedicated his career to after his professional career, where he worked as a mentor for dozens of youths.

“I feel like I’ve given it my all,” said Anger. “I was bleeding purple the whole time.”

Chedikh, 21, will conclude his two joyful years in Seattle after making the decision to leave his home in Lyon, France, to play college tennis. Cedech climbed to number one in the NCAA rankings this year and is at number eight. He will be ranked in the top 16 in the NCAA and according to Anger has a solid chance of getting a national title, which would be a first in school history.

“If I was a disabled person, there are eight guys I would probably look at and say, ‘Wow, these guys are all capable. Unger said, “And Clement is definitely one of those guys.”

It was near Thanksgiving when Anger brought up Chidekh the idea of ​​training him as a pro. Shidakh was overjoyed and immediately on board.

“My first reaction was, I was so proud and excited,” Chedech said. “If Coach Anger thinks I can do a good job and wants to help me and is willing to quit his job he’s been doing for 27 years with so much success to come with me, that’s a real sign of confidence.”

Fury was all about the idea of ​​retiring this year or next, but the opportunity to help the very promising Cheydech take the next step in his career brought timing in his mind. He has helped his children grow so that he has more freedom to travel which will be great in his new role. Fury’s numbers suggest he will spend about two weeks a month traveling, either to coach Sheidikh in pro tournaments or to help him train at his French headquarters in Marseille.

Fury feels some remorse at leaving the younger Husky recruits, “but as my daughter said, if I waited for each new semester, it would never happen.”

Childish training would help him calm a different sense of guilt he had been feeling over the years.

“We had some guys before and I thought it would have been better if you got out of college,” he said. “I wish I could have helped them more.”

In Chidekh, Anger sees the perfect way to pass on his vast store of knowledge that he has honed as a USC All-American and a professional who has risen to number 23 in the world. Fury reached the last 16 at Wimbledon and the 1986 French Open. He sees a flourishing career for Alsheedikh.

“Clement is a good person, a very well done guy who works harder than anyone else,” Unger said. “In sports, these are the people who will continue to advance. His best tennis is ahead of him.”

Sheedch, in turn, credits Anger with accelerating his growth by teaching him not only the required tennis strokes but honing the mental side of his game.

“He knows so many things, so many shots – I didn’t even know we could learn,” Chedech said. “It teaches them by telling you how they’re supposed to feel in the racket. It’s a lot easier to learn this way; it’s the subtle sense that makes them so precise.”

“It gives me a lot of calm on the court when I’m in the singles tournaments. I feel like I’m playing two against one.

“I was at a point (in France) where I needed to choose between school and tennis. And I wasn’t ready to make that choice yet.” It was an incredible opportunity here to get good training in a good school with a crazy facility. It didn’t take long for me to say yes.”

Now Chedech considers himself a Husky for life, and he has absorbed the atmosphere of the team to the fullest.

“It’s just the drive to get up in the morning when you’re not doing it just for you, you’re doing it for all men,” he said. “That’s why people do so much better in the United States.”

Meanwhile, Anger looks proudly at the growth of the Husky program, which in its early years had to play the (then) Southern Pac-10 school on the road because tennis in the Northwest wasn’t considered strong enough to warrant a trip.

“I had to fight for a number of years to say, ‘Look, we can compete with these teams, and make it a fair schedule,'” he said.

The Husky eventually became a force, making the NCAA Championship 19 times in a row. Considering the highlights of his UW career, Anger puts his last run in a Pac-12 title match near the top, along with their first Pac-10 title in 2005, and the first time Huskys advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 (2001) . Anger ranked among the top 15 teams of the season.

But relationships, not victories (and impending failures that still burn), will be remembered the longest by fury.

“I had reasons to get into coaching. He said those (relationships) were never one of them.” I never thought about that. And that was the biggest and best surprise, just keeping in touch with the players over the years as they play tennis or go on with their life after tennis. Hence their families and keep in touch. … I hope it continues, because this is incredibly special.”

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