Sports, Tennis

Former Go-Hawks become Knights

While some students may want to get away from their hometown when they go to college, four former Waverly-Shell Rock tennis players made the transition to playing tennis for the Wartburg Knights.

While she didn’t consider coming to Wartburg at first, Kayla Reusche decided to visit Wartburg and never looked back.

“Once I was on my visit, it felt right,” Reusche said. “I could picture myself being here.”

When she first came to Wartburg, Liz Rucker had finished with state tennis two months before her first collegiate season and said she didn’t have trouble transitioning.

“It was kind of nice because I didn’t have any rust to really get off because I had still been playing earlier that summer,” Rucker said.

Since the high school tennis team would sometimes play in “The W,” Rucker said knowing how to play on the indoor courts when she got to college gave her and other former Go-Hawks an extra advantage.

Wartburg head men’s and women’s tennis coach Mike Strydom said traditionally a first-year collegiate tennis player is trained in either singles or doubles.

“Waverly [Shell-Rock] does a good job at training them in both. They are very well coached,” Strydom said.

He said what attracts a student from Waverly is no different than any other student.

“We’re a school that’s worth it. We have fantastic facilities, we have excellent programs and our tennis program is growing,” Strydom said.

Rucker said both Go-Hawks and Knights have had a lot of success.

“My junior year [of high school] we set a new school record and made it to state tennis as a team for the first year ever in school history. We’ve also had some big upsets on the women’s side while at Wartburg,” Rucker said.

While excellent coaching, breaking school records and having success on the court are important, Strydom said both programs emphasize other important qualities that are not found in sports.

“There is a focus on character. Waverly-Shell Rock does the same thing. They do a good job of saying to the kids ‘look it’s great you play sports but we’re trying to turn you into good adults’ and I think we do the same thing here,” Strydom said.

Reusche said both programs look out for the athletes as overall people and want them to have other experiences beside focusing solely on tennis.

In order to focus more on academics, Rucker will not be continuing her tennis career, but will take away one aspect that she has learned throughout her years playing tennis.

“No matter on or off the court, I know the tennis ladies will always be there for me,” Rucker said.

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