Grant Chen Interview: Former Asst. Head Coach UCLA Men’s Tennis now SMU Head Coach, Asian Heritage, Roger Federer knows his name! Do you?

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Grant Chen arrived on the SMU Hilltop from UCLA, where he served Bruin Head Coach Billy Martin for over 15 years in a multitude of roles, ranging from team manager to associate head coach. 

For the final three seasons at UCLA, Chen has served as Associate Head Coach, and, prior to that, he served as Assistant Coach for three years. During Chen’s six seasons on Martin’s coaching staff, the Bruins registered a 149-28 record (.842) and reached the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships five times. This past season, UCLA posted its third semifinal-round appearance of the stretch and totaled 30 wins for the first time in Martin’s tenure.

The Bruins also collected four Pac-12 regular-season titles and three tournament trophies during Chen’s time on staff.

Chen got his start with the Bruins as a student manager in 2001, as he played a pivotal role in the organization and growth of Martin’s annual on-campus summer camp while fulfilling necessary off-court duties. The Bruins captured the NCAA title in 2005, Chen’s penultimate year in the role. Chen’s jack-of-all-trades skillset resulted in his hiring as Director of Operations upon his graduation from UCLA in 2006. He handled logistics, travel, equipment and management of all home events, including ITA Kick-Off Weekend, NCAA Regionals and the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships.


A fixture in the tennis community both at home and abroad, Chen currently serves on the board of directors for ITA and USTA Southern California. A busy summer 2017 saw Chen guide Team Southern California to the title at the USTA Boys National Team Championships in Champaign, Ill., before leading Team USA and the mixed doubles duo of Bruins Jada Hart and Logan Staggs to a bronze medal at the 29th Summer Universiade in Taipei. Chen briefly ventured into a role with Pure Sports Management in 2007, but maintained his ties to UCLA as head coach of its club tennis team.

Inheriting a young roster in his first season, Chen guided the Mustangs to an improvement in the win column tallying 12 wins. The highlight win of the season came in the first round of the American Conference Championships when they took down ECU in a sweep … Chen brought in a heralded recruiting class in the limited time on the Hilltop including two additions that were competing for the Mustangs in January … His 2019 class was ranked No. 22 in the nation and the second-highest outside of the power five. During the campaign, junior transfer Carles Sarrio was named All-Conference and finished the season ranked in the ITA.


Grant Chen photograph of the legends
Grant Chen photograph of the legends


Passionate Tennis player and team leader of the LoveSetMatch tennis blog living in the city of Angeles. Check out our podcast "TennisPal Chronicles" and say hi @LoveSetMatch_