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Seaborne transitions from court to sidelines

BY JOSH HICKS | SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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A Hawkeye, originally from London, who garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors in the past two years is sticking around campus to coach.

Former Iowa women’s tennis player Ruth Seaborne is volunteering this year as an assistant to head coach Katie Dougherty. Iowa fans may remember Seaborne as a two-time Big-Ten Player of the Week last spring.

She had an exceptional college career, beating a host of ranked opponents in both singles and doubles matches. In her senior year, she climbed as high as 56th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s ranking system for singles play and finished with an 8-3 record in the Big Ten.

She’s clearly been a leader on the court, and she thinks coaching is the right direction to take.

“It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a sophomore in college,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to pursue coaching college tennis. So this is a good next step for me. Being around the college environment and traveling with the team is just something that I grew to love.”

The question of whether she’d rather volunteer her time elsewhere never even came to mind. It seems she wouldn’t want to help any team but the Hawkeyes.

“Katie has been a hands-down, awesome mentor,” Seaborne said. “I originally transferred here from Florida State pretty much for the coaching staff. She’s a great person and a great manager of the team and someone I can really learn from.”

Dougherty also had nothing but praise for Seaborne.

“She’s been an enormous help to me without having a formal assistant coach, yet she’s done a great job,” the sixth-year head coach said.

Last weekend, the Hawkeyes traveled to Minnesota for the Gopher Invitational, a tournament in which Seaborne and Morven McCulloch (now a senior) played very well last year.

Dougherty spoke with enthusiasm about the opportunity for her players to play and also on the opportunity for Seaborne to coach before going to the tournament in Minneapolis. It was Seaborne’s first opportunity to coach on the sidelines at the college level.

Previously, she did everything from playing in practice to running drills to feeding balls to players.

As could be expected, Seaborne has an unmatched resonance with the players on the team, including Katie Zordani, who played with Seaborne during the past two seasons.

“I’ve always kind of looked up to her as a great player, teammate, and now coach,” the senior said. “It’s really nice having her on the court. She can relate to us because she was playing on the team four months ago. She understands what’s going through our heads because we would all hang out together with her as a team and do activities off the court that other assistant coaches wouldn’t be there for. She’s our friend.”

Dougherty agreed, saying Seaborne’s career on the sidelines is far from over.

“The players who have played with her respect her, and the new players respect her — they know her background,” Dougherty said. “She’s going to be a great coach; technically, tactically — she definitely knows her stuff.”

Follow @joshhicks90 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s tennis team.


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