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Women's TennisTennis, Women's

left 1887 Caldwell College tennis players

Tennis was played at Caldwell College before 1911. In fact, some of the Caldwell women were playing at the Elks Club in town at the turn of the century. Anita Curry, Class of 1925, held the title of Nebraska State Tennis Champion for ten years including the time that she was a student at Kentucky College for Women. In 1929 the Women's Athletic Association raised money and presented the women's college with a hard-surfaced tennis court. Prior to 1965 two women, Jean Kraft and Sue Stafford, had played as members of the men's varsity team. In 1965 Stafford and two other women were practicing and playing with the men's team. Stafford teamed up with three or four other women to organize what is believed to be among the first college women's tennis teams in Kentucky. Since none of the other small colleges in the state had tennis teams, most of the matches for the first three years were against the larger universities. Despite the size difference, the Centre women's tennis team remained undefeated until 1969.

The women's team started tennis as a fall sport. Fall was chosen because the weather in Kentucky was much better for tennis in September and October than much of the spring, and the courts were unavailable in the spring because it was the traditional season for the men's tennis team. In 1992 the team began competing in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), in which tennis was a spring sport, putting Centre's team at a distinct disadvantage against the more southern conference members. During the decade of the 1990's the team struggled as it faced stiff competition, lack of practice time, and a succession of part-time coaches whose main sport was something other than tennis. In 1999 Matt Vonderbrink, a former coach of the men's team, was hired to be head coach for both men and women. Having a coach whose only sport was tennis began to pay dividends, as the women's tennis team returned to winning seasons. The completion of the Sutcliffe Hall project in 2006 gave both the men's and women's tennis teams an indoor practice facility.

Source: Baird, Kitty Rogers. Women Athletes Blazing a Trail: a History of Women's Participation in Sport at a Small Liberal Arts College. (Centre College, 2001)