Western Michigan head coach Betsy Kuhle has long since established the women’s tennis program as not only one of the top programs in the Mid-American Conference, but the region as well.
Now the longest tenured coach at WMU, the 2004-05 season marks the 23rd year that Kuhle will guide the Bronco tennis program. Under her guidance, the team has reached impressive levels of success both on the court and in the classroom.
The 2003-04 season was yet another campaign filled with team and individual honors. The Broncos finished second in the league standings and advanced to the tournament semifinals. Kuhle was named Co-MAC Coach of the Year and a pair of student-athletes claimed All-MAC accolades.
The Broncos have won four of the last eight MAC women’s tennis championships (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001) and seven total (1984, 1990, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001) under Kuhle’s direction. Western Michigan also claimed the first two MAC automatic NCAA berths (1999, 2000) since the conference was granted that benefit in 1999.
The Broncos have compiled a 359-192 (.651) overall and 134-23 (.851) MAC dual-match records and have never finished lower than third in the conference under Kuhle’s guidance.
Kuhle’s young 2002-03 team went 15-9 overall, 7-2 in the MAC. Five of the eight players had never competed with the Broncos. Kuhle guided Frederika Girsang to the MAC Player of the Year award, the first Western Michigan women’s tennis player to win that award since its creation in 1998.
Battling through an injury-plagued 2001-02 season, the Broncos placed third in the MAC with a 7-2 record. WMU finished 14-11 overall, marking the program’s 14th consecutive winning campaign. WMU has had just one sub-.500 season during Kuhle’s tenure.
The 2000-01 season will be remembered for a pair of historic achievements. Kuhle won her 300th career match as WMU coach. No other coach in Western Michigan history has won more than 50 matches. Kuhle also guided WMU to its third consecutive Mid-American Conference championship, marking the first time in program history the Broncos won three consecutive titles.
A four-time recipient of MAC Coach of the Year honors (1990, 1995, 1997, 2004), Kuhle was named Intercollegiate Tennis Association-Volvo Midwest Coach of the Year in 1990 after WMU finished eighth in Region IV. The WMU Alumni “W” Club honored Kuhle as its Woman of the Year in 1998.
The program’s academic success parallels the Broncos’ success on the court. A total of 20 of Kuhle’s players have been named to the MAC All-Academic team; eight have been named ITA/Volvo Scholar-Athletes; and three were GTE Academic All-District choices. Kuhle’s program has been honored as an ITA All-Academic team seven years in a row. WMU women’s tennis has posted a 100 percent graduation rate during the Kuhle era.
She has also served as coach of the United States Tennis Association Western Section 16-and-under Zonal Championship in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2003.
Prior to taking over the helm of the Broncos, Kuhle served as a pro at the John Gardiner Tennis Ranch in Carmel Valley, Calif., for two years. She held a similar post at the Santa Catalina Girls School in Monterey for nearly three years. In September, 1980, Kuhle assumed professional duties locally at the West Hills Tennis Club.
A 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in finance, Kuhle played No. 1 singles for the Illini. She received a master’s degree in business administration from WMU in December of 1987.
Active in the profession, Kuhle is currently on the ITA Board of Directors and a member of the operating committee. She was the chair of the ITA Midwest Regional committee.
A native of Decatur, Ill., Kuhle captured the 1994 ITA 35-and-over title and ranked as high as fourth in the Western Tennis Association’s rankings. She also served as the chairperson for the WTA Junior Wightman Cup Tournament.
Kuhle’s three brothers serve as tennis pros. Lornie is the head pro and owner of the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in Del Mar, Calif., and the head pro and owner of the Tennis Shop in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas; Chuck is head pro and manager at the Decatur Racket Club in their hometown, and Mike is a pro in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.