The Podcast

Hard Comes First ft. Rod Ray

Welcome to Season 12 Episode 28 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. In this week’s podcast, Wofford Men’s Tennis Coach, Rod Ray, joins Lisa to share his sports journey with his two sons and why he’s found value and joy in the challenges life has thrown at him. He also talks about his recruiting philosophy and what parents and junior players need to know.

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When he was about 4 or 5 years old, Rod’s oldest son, Cole, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Since Rod and his wife also had another son, Ashe, just 18 months younger, they had to find a way to balance Cole’s needs with those of his little brother.

As the boys got older, they both gravitated toward sports, not surprising given Rod’s background as a collegiate tennis player and current job as the Head Coach at Wofford. Through sports, Rod was able to watch both his sons face hardships head on and learn from those situations in order to keep improving on and off the playing field.

For Cole, that meant coming in last place in his track events multiple times until he was able to find a way to move up the ranks, eventually earning the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level. For Ashe, that meant learning to be self-sufficient at his tennis practices and tournaments when his parents were otherwise occupied with their own jobs and the care of his older brother.

Both brothers will graduate college in the coming months with a future that looks bright for both of them. Throughout their journeys, though, Rod has had his own challenges balancing his role as both Coach and Dad. He is now in the process of sharing that journey through book form, writing HARD COMES FIRST which will be published some time in 2024.

For more information on Rod’s process, visit his website at and sign up to receive his blog and join the waitlist for his book.

For more information on Wofford College Tennis, a Division I program in the Southern Conference, visit and You can reach Rod via email at [email protected].

If you’re so inclined, please share this – and all our episodes! – with your tennis community. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via your favorite podcast app. And check out our logo’d merch as well as our a la carte personal consultations in our online shop. To support ParentingAces’ work with a financial donation of any size via PayPal, click here.


Intro & Outro Music: Morgan Stone aka STØNE

Audio & Video Editing: Lisa Stone


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