A lifetime of passion and commitment toward the sport of tennis has become something bigger for Bob Modesto.
A household name on the Northwest Indiana tennis scene, Modesto has been hired to take over as the head coach of the Valparaiso University women’s tennis program.
“I’ve been involved in the sport of tennis for over 25 years, and this has been a lifelong goal,” Modesto said. “It’s hard for words to convey my excitement and enthusiasm for taking over this position. To coach at the Division-I level and in a league of the Missouri Valley Conference’s quality is a great honor.”
The Chesterton resident is familiar with Valpo’s program as his daughter Meg played for the team for the last four seasons and graduated in May. All three of Modesto’s daughters played tennis at the Division-I level with Bobbi playing at IUPUI and Maureen doing so at Missouri.
“Going through the recruiting process with three daughters will help me now that I’m on the other side of that process,” Modesto said. “As a father, I felt that I was handing my daughter over to a coach. I want the players’ families to know their daughters will excel on and off the court in my program.”
Modesto began teaching tennis in 1993 as a pro at Match Point Tennis Club in Griffith, where he was the Director of Tennis. He coached the boys tennis team at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Illinois to seven consecutive state appearances and led the girls team at Munster High School to five straight trips to the Indiana state finals during his stint leading the Mustangs from 2004-2009. His time coaching at Munster concluded on a high note in 2009, when the team finished third at state and senior Mary Hill became the first female singles player from Northwest Indiana to win a state title. Modesto coached high school student-athletes who went on to play at Bradley, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Bowling Green and Missouri.
In recent years, Modesto has served as the Director of Tennis at the Northwest Athletic Club in Michigan City. A seasoned coach and instructor, Modesto has been recognized as a conference coach of the year, district coach of the year and state coach of the year. He was named the Post-Tribune Coach of the Year three times and the NWI Times Coach of the Year on four occasions. He has presented at tennis coaches’ conferences in Chicago, Indianapolis and at the University of Notre Dame.
“We are thrilled to have an individual of Coach Modesto’s caliber take over our women’s tennis program,” Valparaiso University Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera said. “His ties to Northwest Indiana and his familiarity with our program will be instrumental in our success in women’s tennis moving forward. Coach Modesto’s enthusiasm, energy and experience level all helped make him a great fit for this role.”
Modesto served in two branches of the military, is an Air Force veteran and was an officer in the U.S. Army. His life experience also includes time as a hotel general manager, high school English teacher and high school Dean of Students. He was a walk-on wrestler at Purdue, where he graduated in 1984 with a degree in education, English and speech. He went on to receive a master’s degree in communication from UIC in 1993.
Modesto’s passion for tennis was exemplified in 2018, when he received significant media attention for playing at least 90 minutes of tennis every day for 365 days.
“My life has been consumed by tennis, and the 365 days are indicative of that,” Modesto said. “I’ve had jobs outside of tennis, but this has always been my passion. I love competing and I can’t wait to do so at Valpo and in the Missouri Valley Conference.”
Modesto inherits a program that produced Valpo’s first individual MVC champion in any sport in the fall of 2018 after posting its highest win total since 2006-2007 in 2017-2018. The team won six MVC Weekly awards during the 2018 season after having three weekly awards total from 2009-2017, quantifying the progress made in recent years.