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The Inside Track

Smith Leaves Pepperdine to Become USC Tennis Coach

June 01, 2002|Lauren Peterson

Peter Smith, the Pepperdine men's tennis coach for the last five years, has been named to the same position at USC.

Smith, 37, replaces Dick Leach, who retired as the Trojans' coach last week after 23 seasons, his final one capped by the national championship USC won 11 days ago.

"It's a challenge," Smith said. "But it's momentum too. The ball is rolling, with that incredible title. It should be a lot easier for me to push a ball that's already rolling than if I was the one who had to get it going."

Smith, who compiled a 118-31 record in dual matches at Pepperdine, also coached at Fresno State and Long Beach State, his alma mater. A 1987 graduate of Long Beach, he played No. 1 singles for the 49ers.

Smith led the Waves to a 25-6 record and the quarterfinals of the NCAA championships this year. Pepperdine qualified for the NCAA tournament in all five seasons he was coach.

His Pepperdine contract was due to expire in July, and the coach said school officials there counter-offered in an effort to retain him.

He said the opportunity to coach at USC was too good to pass up.

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