by LIZ SINKEVICS
A record number of four members of the Rockford Rams girls varsity tennis team were named as OK Red All-Conference players, according to Coach Tom Huizing.
The players are Lauren Korlewitz at first singles and Marjeanne Bothma at second singles, both freshmen, and the first doubles team of senior Jillian Haverkate and junior Katie Rachon.
The eight coaches of the OK Red chose 10 singles players and two doubles teams as All-Conference players based on their records in conference matches throughout the season as well as their records at the conference tournament.
Overall, the Rockford team’s record was 10-1-1, with two first-place wins and one second-place finish at the invitationals, a tie for first at the OK Red conference tournament, finishing second in the conference by just one point and winning the Class A Division I regional tournament for the first time in school history.
Huizing said this is the first time so many Rams have been named to All-Conference during his four years of coaching at Rockford High School.
The announcement came as the team prepared for last weekend’s state finals in Midland. It was the Rams’ second appearance at the state tournament in as many years.
Huizing, who was named Regional Coach of the Year in the OK Red, said the team’s record was the best in his seven years as a coach. The stellar 2009 spring season also brought the highest finish he’s seen at a conference tournament, his first regional tournament win, his first time for back-to-back appearances at the state finals, his first victory against West Ottawa High School, and his first loss to Hudsonville High School, whose resurgent program topped the OK Red conference.
“This team has meant the world to me,” said Coach Huizing, who is also a high school social studies teacher and former tennis standout at Aquinas College. “I have dedicated myself to these girls and the tennis program. I have the utmost respect for these girls as athletes and people. The girls have exceeded all my expectations.”
Huizing said his goal for the team is constant improvement, mentally and physically, at matches, invitationals and tournaments. “These girls have taken this goal and dominated it,” he said. “These girls have given me a lot of firsts, and without their dedication and hard work, none of these would have been accomplished.”
At last week’s banquet, JV-A Coach Valerie Wallace feted her team for an undefeated season. And first-year JV-B Coach Matt Drolett’s team posted just one loss.
“The future of Rockford tennis is bright,” Huizing said. “The success and the work these girls have been putting in is contagious. A dedication to tennis and the Rockford tennis program is becoming more apparent.”