New women’s tennis head coach hopes to connect


by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

Nothing creates a stronger bond in the player-coach relationship than when the two parties can relate.

The Simpson College women’s tennis team will get a chance to experience this connection with new head coach Jenni Gruenisen, who was hired in August.

Gruenisen takes the place of Lindsay Chase, who led Simpson to a 50-93 record in her 2008-2015 tenure and a 6-15 record last season.

Graduating from the Division III Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. in 2008, Gruenisen was a standout player for the Gusties.

She earned All-American honors in singles and doubles as a senior and was selected as the 2008 Midwest Region Senior Player of the Year. Gruenisen helped lead Gustavus Adolphus to the NCAA Team Tournament four times and the individual tournament once, and also earned all-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic honors seven times (four singles, three doubles).

“I think she is a great find for us,” senior tennis player Michelle Hartmann said. “She has a lot of experience playing tennis on her own at the Division III level. She played at a liberal arts school so she gets the idea of a student athlete.”

The liberal arts quality of Simspon along with the often-argued, “true college student-athlete” that Division III schools generate was what really drew Gruenisen to the job.

“I always wanted to get back into a liberal arts school, and I’ve missed tennis,” Gruenisen said. “I love liberal arts colleges and am a huge advocate for them…having gone to a liberal arts school I can relate to these kids and their classes.”

“She just does a really good job of connecting with each individual person,” Hartmann said. “She seems to care about us on a personal level.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2008, Gruenisen served as a coaching professional for a year before graduating from Drake Law School in 2012. She currently owns Jennifer Gruenisen Mediation and Law Office, LLC in Ankeny.

With a team that is split between upper- and underclassmen, Gruenisen has come in trying to balance the team’s old regime and routine while adding her own twist.

Just in the first few weeks of the team being together, Gruenisen has put a premium on conditioning, requiring the girls to do arm workouts three days a week, legs twice and abs everyday – while ending practices with strenuous conditioning.

“Before I came in and started practice I had emailed the team and asked for them to send me information about what they’ve liked for the past two or three years,” Gruenisen said. “I’ve tried to take into account stuff that has worked well for them in the past…but then again some new things had to be done.”

Gruenisen and the Storm’s first test came last Saturday in a double-header sweep of Knox and Monmouth College at Simpson. They’ll continue with conference play in a travel-laden season as they visit Loras and Dubuque on Sept. 12.