Reunited: St. Edward’s tennis coach, South Korean player dominate once again

Originally from Daejeon, South Korea, Charlie Shin started playing tennis with his father at age 10. 

When he and his family moved to the United States in 2007, his private tennis coach at the Austin Tennis Academy was Estevam Strecker. After two years apart, Strecker is his tennis coach again — at St. Edward’s University. 

This year, Shin is a junior transfer student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who has been a standout on the tennis courts and in the classroom for his consistent character.

“When I look back at who I started with and who I have as a player/person today, it is quite remarkable the transformation,” St. Edward’s Head Coach Strecker said. “This is the reason I got into coaching in the first place. You can be involved in the development of someone’s life journey and you just never know where they will end up.”

In South Korea, Shin could focus on tennis primarily, while in the U.S. he has to split his focus between academics and tennis. Nonetheless, knowing little English when he first moved to the U.S. was not an excuse for failure.

“The traditions, and tennis-system wise, they’re very different,” Shin said, comparing the two countries, saying that the transition was tough both mentally and physically. “My parents told me to just try as best as I could.”

At the Austin Tennis Academy, Shin grew to become one of the best tennis players in the nation, earning himself a scholarship to play Division I tennis in Nebraska.

After two years of minimal playing time, he contacted Strecker for advice on other university options. This ultimately led to the tennis reunion, simply because he wanted to work with his former coach again.

Switching from public to private school was another transition in itself, but he’s found it easy to adjust.

However, a struggle he has faced since coming back to Austin is that his family has returned to South Korea, where his father is teaching Educational Administration at the University of Korea.

Shin is majoring in kinesiology and plans on becoming a professor like his father, who was previously researching in the U.S., associated with the University of Texas-Austin.

Like most international students, he does miss home and his family, but you wouldn’t be able to tell behind his outgoing personality, jokes and smile.

Usually one of the first people in the classroom, Shin uses the minutes before lecture to find a way to make people “feel happy” by leaving fake messages from the professor on the whiteboard.

“He’s hilarious,” Professor William David Thomason said. “I know he will deny it, but there are cartoon drawings, often of me, that are on the board. They will ask some question that just cracks me up … He is witty and always has a great attitude.”

On the tennis courts, Shin appears just as comfortable at St. Edward’s.

The reigning Heartland Conference Player of the Week, Shin holds the team’s highest overall record in singles, at 15-11. Alongside sophomore doubles partner Ricardo Pineda, they have won most of their matches, and are now ranked 20th in the country.

Serving as a consistent leader for this younger team, Shin says he tries to emulate the “beautiful” style of play as his favorite professional tennis player Roger Federer.

“I am also really happy that Charlie’s last match in his competitive career will be played in my program,” Strecker said. “We sort of started together and we will finish it together. I am really looking forward to what he will do next.”