Brown Announces Coaching Staff

TJ Pura, Geoff Hernandez named assistant coaches

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— New Vanderbilt men’s tennis head coach Scott Brown announced the addition of two assistant coaches to his staff on Monday. TJ Pura and Geoff Hernandez will aid Brown in writing the next chapter of the program.

“I am beyond excited to have both TJ and Geoff join our staff as assistant coaches,” Brown said. “Both of them are rising stars in the collegiate coaching ranks, they will be playing important roles in laying the foundation and building the culture for the future success of the Vanderbilt men’s tennis program.  With their passion and energy, work ethic and commitment to excellence they will help propel our program to greater heights, both in the classroom and on the tennis court.  TJ and Geoff represent the values and integrity of this great university and they will be fully invested in our student-athletes, the university and the Nashville community.  With both of them on board, I truly believe we have one of the best coaching staffs in the country to offer our current and future student-athletes.”

Pura, a native of Pacific Palisades, California, comes to the Commodores after serving his alma mater, Duke, as a volunteer assistant coach during the 2022-23 season. During this time, Pura played a pivotal role in helping Duke reach the championship match of the ACC Tournament, NCAA Sweet 16 and achieve a final ITA team ranking of No. 11. Pura also assisted in guiding senior Garrett Johns and freshman Pedro Rodenas to ITA All-America honors.

At the professional level, Pura served as mentor, traveling coach and manager for American Tommy Paul on the ITF Futures and ATP Challenger Tours in 2018. Pura aided Paul in jumping from No. 372 to No. 201 in the world rankings during this time. In 2022, Pura worked with Paul as a mental coach and neurophysiologist, aiding in the development and implementation of strategies designed to enhance on-court performance including self-talk, routine execution, time management and visualization.

A two-time team captain, Pura competed as a Blue Devil from 2013-17, graduating sixth in school history with 30 ACC singles wins. As a senior, Pura finished 11-0 in singles play in ACC action to both record the most conference singles victories and longest league win streak in program history. He was named the 2017 ITA Carolina Region Most Improved Senior for his efforts.

During his time at Duke, Pura aided the Blue Devils in achieving a 71-39 overall record, as well as appearing in the NCAA Championships three times. In 2013, he earned the singles title at the Winthrop Invitational and the doubles title at the Duke Fab Four Invitational (White Bracket).

After graduation, Pura competed as a professional tennis player on the ITA Futures Tour, representing the United States at the biennial President’s Cup in 2018. Upon retiring from his playing career, Pura worked three years in the investment and finance world before returning to the game in a coaching capacity.

“I’d first like to thank Ramsey Smith, our 10 players and the entire Duke staff for an incredible season. They all challenged me to be a better coach, day in and day out,” Pura said. “I am thrilled to be joining Vanderbilt tennis and learning from an incredible head coach in Scott Brown. I am excited for what we can accomplish in the season ahead and am fully committed to doing whatever it takes to make that happen. Let’s go Dores!”

Hernandez joins the staff in a full-time capacity after spending the 2022-23 season with the Commodores as a volunteer assistant. Before Vanderbilt, the Houston native spent eight years with Lipscomb men’s tennis, including five as the Bisons’ head coach. Under Hernandez’s guidance, the Bisons had the first two winning seasons in program history, reaching No. 65 in the ITA national rankings.

Hernandez’s efforts led Lipscomb duo Victor Chaw and Pablo Caffarena to the ITA Regional Championship final, a program-first accomplishment. The pair then became the first Bisons in program history to compete in the ITA National Fall Championship.

Aside from the collegiate tennis world, Hernandez has also coached at the EHIT tennis club in East Hampton, New York, the West Hills Racquet and Fitness Club in Portland, Oregon, and the Brentwood Swim & Tennis Club.

Prior to coaching, Hernandez competed as a student-athlete at Portland for four years, primarily at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions in both singles and doubles play. As team captain his senior year, the Pilots reached the school’s best-ever mark of No. 45 in the ITA national rankings.

“First off, I want to thank Dr. Candice Lee and Coach Scott Brown for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this new chapter in Vanderbilt tennis,” said Hernandez. “I’d also like to thank Ian [Duvenhage] and Ryan [Lipman] for bringing me on last year as the volunteer coach and Coach [Geoff] Macdonald for his guidance over the years even before my time at Vanderbilt. What we have at Vanderbilt is the perfect platform to build a championship caliber program. The vision that Candice and Scott have for where this program can go is inspiring and will be demanding. I know with the support of the Vanderbilt community, the student-athletes on the team and this coaching staff, we are going to build something special. Working alongside Scott and TJ with our student-athletes is an opportunity to grow in so many ways for me personally, but ultimately it is about our guys. We are ready to work at the highest standard in college tennis. Anchor Down!”

Brown was named head coach at Vanderbilt on May 26 and is taking over a program that advanced to the championship match of the inaugural Universal Tennis National Invitational Tennis Championship last season.