Pat Heller takes over as Simpson women’s tennis coach

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by Amy Hubner

The women’s tennis team has a new head coach and high hopes for a successful season. After three years as an assistant coach, Pat Heller has been promoted to head women’s tennis coach.

“I wasn’t aware of all the responsibilities of becoming head coach,” Heller said. “There are many details which slipped my mind, but overall it’s more rewarding than I had anticipated to work with such outstanding athletes.”

Heller knew filling Nutgrass’ shoes would not be easy.

“Last year’s coach, Bob Nutgrass, was a great coach and I enjoyed working with him so there won’t be any drastic changes between the team,” Heller said. “I want to run an active practice and keep the girls working hard.”

Heller’s experience with the team and the game has helped him emphasize the importance of having fun while competing.

“I want my girls to have fun while they are out there,” Heller said. “We want to win but it’s not life or death.”

Senior captain Emily DeBolt has been very pleased with Heller.

“He’s really good at communicating with the players,” DeBolt said. “He knows what each of us specifically needs to improve on and takes the time to help us.”

Overall the team is 2-4 with just over half the season left to play. There are 12 women out for the team including four seniors.

“We have a great balance between our team,” Heller said. “They are all athletic and any one player can stand out on any given day.”

The mix of players adds dimension and diversity to the team.

“The team has great dynamics,” junior Natalie Meier said. “We work well together and it shows when we play.”

While they work well together, some players also set their own aspirations high. DeBolt is one who has set personal goals for herself.

“I am really focusing on finishing strong and winning the crucial points toward the end of every match,” DeBolt said.

The team has shortened practice time, but picked up the intensity.

There is one last home tennis match held on Sept. 28 against the Iowa State Club.

“I understand all the students here have a full plate and are really involved with their activities, but it would be nice to see a crowd supporting the team,” Heller said. “Usually it’s just parents and boyfriends who make it, but I think the girls still try their hardest every time out.”