From Connecticut to Kentucky to Florida, Chris Pappas has experienced diverse cultures in unique states. What remained unchanged, however, was his love for the courts — the tennis courts and the legal courts.
His passions are present in Hamden, Connecticut, where Pappas not only coaches the Quinnipiac men’s tennis team, but also owns a law firm and teaches LE 101: Intro to American Legal System.
To say he’s busy would be an understatement, but he finds a way to manage his jam-packed schedule.
“My running joke is that I’m always 30 minutes late and should be somewhere else,” Pappas said. “I’m very busy, but I enjoy it being that way. I go from one thing to the next but everything I do, I love doing, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t. I really enjoy what I do, so it doesn’t seem as chaotic as it does to the outside.”
Finding free time amid his three jobs is challenging, but he said he carefully maneuvers through his day, especially with spring approaching.
Spring is tennis season and since the 2013-14 season, Pappas has been a part of the Quinnipiac tennis program. In his inaugural year, he served as the men’s assistant coach under Quinnipiac and New England hall of fame head coach Mike Quitko. Quitko was ill in Pappas’ first season, so Pappas took most of the head coaching responsibilities, making his transition to head coach in 2014-15 seamless.
And since that point, there have rarely been bumps in the road. He’s been named the MAAC Coach of the Year twice (2014-15 and 2015-16) and possesses a 26-8 MAAC record.
More importantly, however, he maintains a strong relationship with the players on and off the court.
“He’s a cool guy,” senior captain Axel Stern said. “He’s a type of guy that you’d go out to hang out with, not just you’re forced because of the tennis relationship. I could see myself coming back a couple years from now and going out for lunch with Chris. He’s a guy I like to hang out with. He has interesting opinions and is a smart guy.”
Pappas is more than a tennis coach to the players. He serves as a role model, and his role as a professor is a major reason why. He stresses academics heavily and holds his players to high academic standards. He expects in-class success just as much as, if not more than, on-court success.
This past semester, the men’s tennis team led all Quinnipiac men’s sports programs with a 3.51 GPA.
“He’s very understanding about circumstances,” Stern said. “If you have a huge exam the next day, he may let you go from practice a little early.”
Pappas teaches an introductory law course at Quinnipiac and has an immense pool of knowledge of the American legal system from his experience as an attorney. Teaching the course is different, though. Pappas explained that it’s one thing to understand the material, but it’s another thing to convey that information to a class.
This, of course, challenged Pappas in his first year teaching the course. Still, he thought he managed to do an effective job despite being thrown into the fire.
A few of Pappas’ players have taken the course in the past, but only senior captain Austin Yannone took Pappas’ first class.
“I was kind of like the guinea pig,” Yannone said. “It was fun. It was weird to have a familiar face behind the podium teaching, but it was good … He said that the class has come very far since I took it. He used to just sit behind the podium and have no visuals and just talk about it.”
When he’s not teaching law or coaching tennis, Pappas is working as an attorney specializing in real estate. He graduated from Quinnipiac School of Law in 2003 and started his own law firm — Christopher Pappas Law Office — in 2005 in Hamden.
Initially, he worked with couples going through divorces but found himself unhappy with it since partners fought throughout the process. He switched over to real estate in 2008 which didn’t have the same negative connotation and instead, dealt with transactions and contract law. It also allowed Pappas to work on his own time rather than work around someone else’s schedule.
At this point, Pappas wasn’t the Quinnipiac men’s tennis head coach nor was he a professor at Quinnipiac. Still, he was busy.
Pappas was working full time as a tennis instructor at the North Haven Health & Racquet Club. He taught students of any age, from 5-year-olds to adults. He also ran the high-level junior program which was designed for high school athletes that were looking to play collegiate tennis.
He even returned to Cheshire High School to coach the boys’ varsity tennis team in 2012 before joining the Quinnipiac men’s tennis staff. Pappas coached the Cheshire girls’ varsity tennis team from 1998-2003.
Tennis was, and still is, a constant in Pappas’s life. He started playing competitively in junior year of high school after giving up hockey. When he graduated, he briefly played Division I tennis at the University of Rhode Island before injuring his knee.
Quitko, who had been Pappas’ instructor as a kid, wanted Pappas to play for the Bobcats at the Division II level. Pappas turned it down because it was Division II, and he wanted to branch out from Hamden.
“I actually regret it — seeing what the school’s become,” Pappas said. “I’m really grateful to be a part of the journey now.”
In being a part of Quinnipiac’s present and future, he’s established himself as one of the top Bobcat coaches. His impact in the classroom, weight room, courtroom and tennis courts is felt by not only his players and students, but the Quinnipiac student body, too.
Senior captain Patrick Cachapero felt Pappas’ impact immediately his freshman year. Cachapero traveled from Loma Linda, California, to play Quinnipiac tennis — 2,834.4 miles away.
Still, Pappas made him feel welcome in the community.
“I definitely went through some struggles off the court,” Cachapero said. “He became more of a father figure for me. He was always checking up on me, inviting me to things and always made me feel included when I’m homesick which is, to me, what’s really important as a coach, so I always felt like I could have gone to him for anything. And I really appreciate that.”
Between each job in Connecticut, his one-year stint as an oil company’s regional manager in Louisville, Kentucky, and his short stay in Orlando, Florida, working for Disney World, kindness, consideration and fairness has shined through more than any achievement or accomplishment in the classroom, courtroom or on the tennis courts.
“The opportunity arose three years ago to teach the LE class. That was my first experience,” Pappas said. “I truly enjoy just dealing with students, student-athletes at this age level. I think I communicate well with them at that point in time so when that opportunity arose, I took advantage of it, and I really enjoyed it.”