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Former women’s tennis player finds success in new role

BY NICK SZAFRANSKI | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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Kelcie Klockenga’s career as a tennis player at Iowa ended 11 months ago.

Seemingly, the successful tennis career she put years of work into had come to a close.

“I decided to stay in Iowa City because I’m doing an internship in the Athletics Learning Center, so I asked [head coach] Katie [Dougherty] if I could be the volunteer assistant coach, and she gladly said yes,” said Klockenga, who graduated in December.

As the volunteer assistant coach, Klockenga attends at every practice. Because the team has an odd number of players, she hits with them and participates in match play. She coaches at every home match, and if she is able to attend a road match, she will.

The four-time letter winner and two-time academic All-Big Ten selection had a 67-65 singles record during her playing days in a Hawkeye uniform.

“It is weird,” Klockenga said. “You see it from a whole different perspective. I wish I could still play — I mean, I miss playing. It is a lot easier to see from the sideline what a player needs to do or what she is doing wrong, but when you are playing, a lot of times it is harder to do that, I think.”

Only 23 years old, Klockenga has played with most of the women on the current squad — six of the seven players are either juniors or seniors. Several of the women, including senior Jessica Young, built strong relationships with Klockenga during her playing career.

“It is interesting having my best friend as a coach,” Young said. “She is always there for me; she always has been. Whether it be as my doubles partner or as my coach. She is an easy person to get along with. If I need help with something, she is there to listen.”

Klockenga’s age allows her to have two different views of the team. She knows what it’s like to be an Iowa women’s tennis player, but now she sees the court from the sidelines.

“The other girls look up to her a lot as a role model,” Young said. “I know Tina [Harazin] loves having her around because she is someone young enough to relate to and someone to help her adjust, but she is a coach.”

Harazin is the only player on the current squad who wasn’t a teammate of Klockenga’s.

With a different perspective on the volunteer assistant coach, Harazin said Klockenga’s lack of experience doesn’t hinder her role because she brings a different type of effect to the team.

“Being a player herself, she has had to coach herself,” said Harazin, a freshman. “When you are out there by yourself, you have to be your own coach, so she definitely knows something about coaching. She is very knowledgeable.”

Athletics at the college level seem to be in the future for Klockenga. The Overland Park, Kan., native plans to go to graduate school at the University of Kansas in order to get into higher-education athletics student services.

“I don’t plan on being a college coach, but I would really like to get involved somehow with tennis at Kansas,” she said.


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