Matt Lucas joined the University of South Carolina staff as an assistant coach shortly after his longtime on-court rival and friend Josh Goffi took the reins of the Gamecock program in July 2010. With experience as both an assistant and a head coach, Lucas' breadth of skills and experience immediately gave South Carolina one of the most dynamic, young men's tennis coaching staffs in the nation, especially in the important recruiting battles.
"Matt is one of the best young coaches in the country," Goffi said. "He gets down to business and is a hard worker. He knows how to recruit, both internationally and domestically, and he's really well rounded. On the court, we will essentially be co-coaches because we are on the same page in terms of philosophy and even demeanor. He can be laid back when he needs to be, but at the same time he can have an edge to him. It's going to be important for us to make sure that we're balancing each other out in that respect."
"The [South Carolina] athletics department speaks for itself with the things it has done, especially in tennis with [former head coach] Kent DeMars," Lucas said. "I knew I wanted to be a part of that. More importantly, I wanted the opportunity to work with Josh. I know how competitive he is, and that's how I am. I think we can really do something special here."
In his first season with the Gamecocks, Lucas helped sign the nation's third-ranked recruiting class. The group included a blue chip signee, two five-star players and a four-star recruit. It was the program's first appearance in the TennisRecruiting.net rankings. Lucas helped develop that group into one that helped the team finish the season ranked No. 41 in the nation and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. His contribution to the team's success delivered personal accolades as well as Lucas was named 2012 ITA Carolina Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Lucas arrived in Columbia after putting together a 22-18 record over two seasons at the University of the Pacific (2009-10). In his first season, he led the Tigers to the No. 1 seed in the Big West Conference Tournament and a national ranking as high as No. 52. Behind a 13-6 overall record, Pacific finished the 2009 season ranked 67th in the nation. A Tiger was the BWC Player of the Year both seasons Lucas was at the helm, and his players combined for 13 all-conference selections.
Despite two seasons leading a program, the change in title at South Carolina did not faze Lucas.
"Talking to Josh, I knew it wouldn't be a delegation in the traditional form of head coach to assistant coach," he said. "I knew we would work together. I have no qualms about being an assistant again, especially when you're working at such a great school and in the greatest conference for tennis in the country."
The goal of working in unison with the head coach is nothing new to Lucas, who began his coaching career at Princeton. In three seasons (2005-08), he saw the Tigers climb as high as No. 50 in the rankings and helped produce seven all-conference players. Despite it being his first college coaching position, Lucas was given the freedom to plan practices and run individual sessions with players in addition to his key role in recruiting.
Lucas played two seasons on the ATP Tour, during which he earned a world ranking in doubles, before spending two years (2003-05) as director of junior tennis development at Chapel Hill Country Club in Chapel Hill, N.C.
That move brought Lucas back Atlantic Coast Conference territory, which is where he made his most indelible impression on college tennis. In two seasons at NC State (2001-02), he played in one of the top two singles spots in the Wolfpack lineup and was a fixture in the No. 1 doubles position. In 2001, he climbed as high as No. 63 in the ITA in singles.
Lucas began his college tennis career in Boone, N.C., playing for his hometown Mountaineers of Appalachian State University (1998-99). The Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 1998 playing in the No. 2 singles position, Lucas was the team MVP in each of his two seasons, winning more than 20 matches each year.