Greg Patton has had a pretty amazing 2013.
In April, he received the U.S. Professional Tennis Association Intermountain Coach of the Year award. On May 31, he was inducted into the Idaho Tennis Association Hall of Fame. As head coach of the Boise State University men's tennis team, he led his squad to a 20-9 record and into the NCAA national men's tennis tournament.
And then there was a little thing called the Davis Cup.
"You're looking at the happiest man, not in Boise, not in Idaho, but in the entire United States right here, right now," he said--and that was before the Davis Cup quarterfinals began, when the United States hosted (and ultimately lost to) Serbia in a thrilling three days of world-class tennis.
Talk to Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Boise State President Bob Kustra, USTA President Dave Haggerty and they'll all tell you the same thing: The driving force behind Boise securing the international tournament was Patton.
Heck, Patton even coached the coach of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
"I told Jim Courier 15 years ago, 'One day, you're going to be the Davis Cup captain and you're going to bring that team back here to Boise,'" said Patton.
"Coach Patton is... what's the word? He's a pied piper," Courier said. "He has so much energy and enthusiasm for life."
Patton, 60, is the eternal optimist in spite of two major tragedies at a very young age: When he was 10, he was shot in the eye with a BB gun, an injury that has led to three major surgeries; and his father died when Patton was 17.
It was the severe eye injury that he said impaired his coordination when he tried to play baseball, basketball and football. But then his mother handed him a racket and started throwing tennis balls at him.
"At first I was missing all of them," Patton said. "But tennis is a bit like golf. You hit one good shot and you think, 'Oh my God, I've got it.'"
Did he ever. He ended up coaching the best: Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras and Courier.
"There's no doubt that Coach Patton was instrumental in bringing [the Davis Cup] to Boise," said Courier.
And when looking to the future, Patton likes to quote another iconic Idahoan:
"Ernest Hemingway said, 'If you don't turn your head, you might as well be dead.'"