When new Kansas State women’s tennis coach Danielle Steinberg left Israel nearly a decade ago to play collegiate tennis at the University of Arizona, she had never needed a coat.
It took several years and a move to Wichita, after a standout playing career at Arizona and a year on staff as a student assistant, that she finally experienced her first winter. Steinberg left the warm temperatures of the Tucson, Ariz., desert to take a job as an assistant coach at Wichita State, finally realizing the need for a coat.
She arrives at K-State after spending two years as head coach at McNeese State and said she’s used to changing scenery.
“I grew up in Tel-Aviv, which is like a New York - very, very urban,” she said. “Then I moved to the desert in Tuscon, and it’s beautiful out there, but you don’t see green, ever. Then I moved to Kansas, which I experienced my first winter ever in 25 years. Then to Louisiana, which is very different. So I think I’m very adaptable and can fit in wherever I am.
“I’m excited to be here. People are great in Kansas, specifically in Manhattan.”
Steinberg was named the Southland Conference coach of the year in 2014, coaching the team to a 16-7 overall mark (10-2 Southland), while earning the program’s first-ever Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional ranking.
While still a young coach, Steinberg has the reputation of an up-and-comer and a good recruiter, especially internationally.
“I want to get the best players to K-State, I don’t care where they’re from,” she said. “It happened that there are a lot of international players here on the team already and that’s kind of my specialty, I guess.”
Steinberg replaces longtime coach Steve Bietau, who spent 30 years as head coach of the Wildcats before announcing his retirement last season. Steinberg said she’s not looking to make sweeping changes.
“I definitely want to establish a culture of hard work and my culture of things,” she said. “I don’t think that will shake things up at all. I think the girls are excited, and they’re looking forward to, not the change, but a different way of doing things.”
When she took over at McNeese State, she inherited a program without a winning culture, something she said she worked extremely hard to turn around, though the lack of success prior to her arrival helped sell recruits on the turnaround.
“At the same time it almost made it a little easier, because they would buy-in to whatever I brought, and they were super excited,” she said. “Everybody was willing to work very hard to see the tennis program succeed, and that was helpful.”
As a native of Israel, Steinberg served two mandatory years in the military following her high school graduation, which she said made her more mature when she came arrived at Arizona.
“I was obviously a tennis player back then, so they work really well with the top athletes,” she said. “I was able to go to practice and compete. But I served in the communications department.”
As a result of her service time, Steinberg arrived in America as a 21-year-old freshman and finished as a 25-year-old senior.
“My first year I had the seniors and everything, but after that, I was always the oldest on the team,” she said. “I remember when I was a senior, coaches from opposing teams would say ‘you’re still here? How old are you?’”
Steinberg said her time in Wichita as an assistant was good because Wichita State coach Colin Foster allowed her to experience all that coaching had to offer in her time there. Now the two coaches, who remain friends, will square off against each other in coming years.
“I think it will be exciting,” she said of playing the Foster and his Shockers. “We’re still in touch and good friends. He’s happy I’m back in Kansas and I’m happy that I’ll have friends in Kansas. I’ll really want to beat them, but we’ll probably play them every year.”