For quite a few years, Xavier girls’ tennis has been a dominant force.
In Mike Mauthe’s 11-plus seasons as the Hawks girls’ and boys’ tennis coach, his teams combined for 17 conference championships. Many of his players earned trips to the individual state tennis tournament, including Shannon Etten, who was the WIAA Division 2 girls’ state champion in 2009.
Mauthe stepped aside prior to the beginning of last season to become principal at Lourdes Academy in Oshkosh. Although his replacement, Cindy Luft, had the Hawks in the upper half of the Wisconsin Combined Tennis Conference in 2012, she, too, has moved on.
In her place are co-coaches C.J. Jumes and Rick Jandl and higher expectations.
Jumes is a 2008 Xavier graduate who repeatedly qualified for the boys’ individual state tournament. He is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in kinesiology.
“I heard about the Xavier coaching tennis position and I thought it would be something fun to do in the year off between finding PT (physical therapy) schools and kind of a way to give back to a program I thought did a lot for me,” Jumes said. “I had a great time and, hopefully, the girls can have a similar experience.”
Jandl is considered a tennis guru who has a wealth of knowledge of the game.
“I’ve played tennis most of my life, but I haven’t played on high school or college teams,” Jandl said. “I played USTA leagues for many years and I’ve captained some of the teams. I’m still active with a couple of them. This gives me a chance to be active on the other end of it, on the coaching side versus the player’s side. I had a coaching minor in college, which I had never used until now.”
So far, the co-coaching routine has worked well.
“It’s good,” Jumes said. “He’s very organized and complements me with that aspect. He’s very much a numbers guy. He has some great ideas. It’s always nice to bounce things off one another and to try things out. With most people, a co-coach situation might have been tough to work into, but right now, no issues with that. I love that it’s made my job a heck of a lot easier having him around.”
And the players have taken notice.
“I’m so excited,” said Bridget Flaherty, the only senior on the varsity lineup. “These coaches have so much potential and they have already shown it. They are so excited about the season and all the girls. It’s a great mix of coaches and they are very talented.”
Flaherty said she has seen a difference in the team since practices began earlier this month.
“(The coaches are) able to put people in positions that they know they will be strong in,” Flaherty said. “They see people’s talents and they put them in either singles or doubles. It’s really a great strength of theirs.
“I see a lot of dedication. Last year, we were really lacking on motivation and everything and I see a lot of that this year. There are a lot of new faces, which is nice, and they’re all excited about the season. I see a lot of talent also.”
Although it’s early, the Hawks are expecting big things.
“We had a conference match already and we did really well, so I can see us doing very well in conference again, bringing back what had happening previous to last year,” Flaherty said.
“Expectations right now, perhaps a bit premature, but this is a group that’s competitive enough to go after the conference title and, hopefully, send a couple of individual teams to state and as a team to make a run into the sectionals and see where goes from there, with our fingers crossed,” Jumes said.
Jandl said he is happy with what he is seeing, but wants continued improvement from his team.
“Being new to coaching, being new to the conference, it’s hard to say,” Jandl said when asked about the conference race. “Just came off of playing four teams with a lot of success, which is a confidence builder for us. Our singles look solid. Our top doubles look solid. We’re in a good position right now. Obviously, we want to win conference, but it’s way too early to have that conversation. I just want a better feel for how we stack up.”
But no matter what happens this season, the Hawks could be close to returning to their past glory.
“We’ve got a great group of girls coming out,” Jumes said. “Really, only a couple of seniors and people graduating, so keep your eyes open because a lot of them will be back. They are good now and they will be even better next year.”
— Dan Kohn: 920-993-1000, ext. 305, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCDanKohn