1986: Women’s tennis conditioned for success

 

By Joe Piche, Sports Editor

“We do a half-hour of conditioning a day,” commented Kathy Bull, head coach of the St. Olaf women’s tennis team.

“But Coach, you just swept Macalester 9-0 and the week before that you humbled St. Thomas 9-0 as well. Don’t you think they at least deserve a little rest? Maybe even a treat at the Dairy Queen?”

“We condition everyday regardless of whether we win or lose.” Bull continued, “We’re a more disciplined team than we have been in the past. We’re intense and we want to win.”

Concentration is evident in the face of Sheila Patterson. The Oles hosted a four team invitational in which no score was kept.

 

And win they do. In their first two conference meets the women have completely dominated play at the line and at the net. Out of a possible 18 matches the Oles have lost none. For a casual observer, one might notice that the team has a good number of freshmen in the line-up. In fact, three of the Ole’s top six single players are freshmen. Leading the way is Sheila Patterson. Patterson, the team’s number two singles player has teamed up with Robin Parmley to comprise possibly the toughest doubles combination in the conference.

Said Mittlestadt, “She [Bull] has made us work hard—she’s conditioned us more, physically and mentally. Instead of just making us play tennis all day Kathy has prepared us to be more disciplined and conditioned athletes.” Just how prepared and conditioned the Oles are is still the question. With meets against St. Mary’s, Bethel and Hamline before break the team has a good chance of continuing their roll, and a good chance of proving that they have more than just beginner’s luck.

“We’ve got a good chance to be 5-0 before break with clean sweeps in each meet if we play well,” said Bull. “But after break is when our schedule gets a little tougher.” Indeed! With an average of three meets a week plus those workouts the squad should have their work cut out for them. The competition will also pick up a bit as well. Teams like nationally rated Principia College out of Illinois, and U of Wisconsion Whitewater, along with Luther, Gustavus, and Carleton should be incentive enough for the Oles to keep working hard.

This team’s hard work and discipline are exceeded only by their coach’s. Coach Bull deserves much credit for reshaping a program that was sagging before she arrived. Women’s tennis at Olaf has never really been poor, but conversely it has never been great. The time for greatness may soon be eclipsing for the women’s team—this could be the start of a dynasty. Middlestadt summed up Bull’s attitude to succeed by stating, “After our double match against Mac, she told us we looked terrible—and that was after we had beaten them 7-6, 6-2.”