Posted April 20, 2016
It has been a full year since the UW-River Falls women’s tennis team survived an effort to drop it in response to state funding cuts. Now, under new Coach Dan Stumpf, a former tennis player at Creighton University, the team is rebuilding.
According to Stumpf, the team has played with confidence. Although it has struggled in the wins column, he said the players are glad they have got a chance to compete this year.
“I think my players play with passion. Whether that is coming from the thought the program was going to be cut or not, I just think they are competitors,” Stumpf said. “Every player on my team has (competed hard) from top to bottom. That is probably what I am most proud about.”
Stumpf said that he doesn’t believe the players have any negative feelings toward anyone about what happened last year, but senior Kelsey Hochberger said the cuts still have been in their minds this year.
“Some people have concern that it could possibly happen again in the future, but I hope not,” she said. “I don’t think it has affected the way we have been performing at all though. But I think we’ve connected more as a team. We came together even outside tennis, and have gotten a lot closer after last year.”
Sophomore Molly Deering said meetings last spring about the possibility of being cut did affect the team’s performance this year because they took players away from practice.
“We had so many meetings, we didn’t get to practice as much,” Deering said. “And I think it affected the team because we didn’t get as many recruits, it scared some of our recruits away because they didn’t know we were going to have a program or not,” Deering said. “I was seriously considered transferring if the program was going to be cut.”
Stumpf, who has over 10 years of coaching experience, said he has loved his first year at UW-River Falls. He said the program aims to become an established team in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), but is not there yet.
“We play teams like Whitewater, La Crosse and Eau Claire that are very well established and have had long-term success and are higher in recruits, and we don’t have that right now,” Stumpf said. “I’m not sure at what point we will be at that level, if we ever will get there.”
According to Stumpf, he has has heard no more talk about the tennis team being cut.
“We don’t discuss that in our program,” he said. “We assume the future is bright. That it was just the one time that the program has maybe seen its darkest day. I won’t allow my players to think that. If that happens it is out of my control and out of my players’ control.”
The tennis team finished its season on April 20 at Hamline University, and will lose two seniors from the 10-player roster. Stumpf said the team has four recruits coming in next year.
“I see a bright future,” he said. “I am excited what we have going on here. I really believe the stability of this program will continue as long as I am representing the school as the head coach.”