Eric Diaz was born into the game. His father, the legendary University of Georgia men's coach Manny Diaz, has been of the prominent leaders in developing young men into adults on and off the court. It was never of a question of if tennis would be a part of the younger Diaz's life, but rather what that part would be, and where it would take him.

After a successful college career that included 95 doubles wins being a part of two Final Four teams, we had our answer. Diaz caught the coaching bug with open arms. But it wasn't a traditional path, and in many ways, it still isn't. He joined the Podcast with Kamau Murray to explain why he took the road less traveled in tennis, and how he discovered Alex Michelsen, one of best American men's tennis prospects in recent memory.


Diaz knew that coaching was for me after finishing his playing career, but he opted to carve out his own path in that profession. It would have been easy to just stay at Georgia, and work under his dad's guidance. But easy wasn't the Diaz way, and opted for a different route. He joined the Boise State staff fresh out of college, and eventually pivoted to the club level, settling in at the Coto Tennis Club in the Orange County region of Southern California. He works for a group called "Tier 1 Performance," a full-time tennis training program that stresses individualized instruction from teaching pros to students.

"I kind of thought I could control my own destiny out here a little bit," Diaz recounts of that crucial life decision. "It's taken a lot, but over time I feel like I did give myself some pretty decent opportunities."

Diaz found his groove coaching young prospects in California, but one in particular stood out from the rest. Alex Michelsen was twelve years old when they linked up, and while he showed potential, there wasn't an aura around him as a future tennis superstar. But the ingredients were clearly there, and the his work ethic was rock solid.

"You definitely see that this kid's capable of playing at a pretty good level while he's young," Diaz recounted of Michelsen's early development. "As you sort of see him and his personality kind of develop, you kind of recognize this isn't you too normal of a 16, 17, 18 year old kid. And then sure enough the results followed, which was pretty fun to watch."


Michelsen's stock continued to rise during his junior career, and he was all set to play for the Georgia Bulldogs. Then the summer of 2023 happened, and everything changed. Michelsen won a Chicago challenger (hosted by Murray at his XS Tennis Center), and then made an improbable run to the finals of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Michelsen leaned on Diaz as he debated whether to play college tennis, and they ultimately realized that he was ready to turn pro.

"If you really think you want to be a pro, show me," Diaz recalled of the message to his player. "We really kind of wanted to see what he's able to do sort of on his own. How well can he manage emotionally, how well can he create some game-plans and stick to his day-to-day routines. And I would say he passed."

Eric Diaz reveals a lot of insight about his relationship with Alex Michelsen in this podcast, as well as how he goes about teaching young tennis players. He's a driving force in the resurgent tennis boom in Southern California, and he knows that every day is a opportunity to get better and transfer to knowledge to the next generation. Listen to this episode and you'll understand why the future is in good hands.