Dick Leach, nearing the end of a long and storied career as men's tennis coach at USC, wondered when he would know it was time to move on. Would it be a feeling? Some sort of sign? Too many days of driving 100 miles round trip to USC from his home in Orange County?
A trusted friend told him: "You'll know."
The moment arrived Sunday night. He returned home after an emotional 4-3 victory at Stanford and couldn't sleep. Leach got up, wrote a letter to his boss, Associate Athletic Director Daryl Gross, detailing his plan to retire at the end of this tennis season in June. "Then I went to sleep," Leach said. "It must have been the right thing."
Leach took the job in 1980 and in 22 postseason appearances won NCAA team titles in 1991, 1993 and 1994. Additionally, he coached two NCAA singles champions--Robert Van't Hof in 1980 and Cecil Mamiit in 1996--as well as three NCAA doubles champions.
"It's been wonderful," said Leach, 62, adding he was lucky to have been able to coach his two sons, Rick and Jon, at USC for four years. He will stay involved in the program, advising Athletic Director Mike Garrett and his successor as tennis coach, as well as fund raising, remaining on the staff as emeritus director.