Beloit, WI – The Beloit College Women’s Tennis team has enjoyed a great deal of success over the program’s history -- five Midwest Conference Team Championships, 44 individual Champions, and 12 double-figure-win seasons in dual matches, including this season.
The players have come and gone but there has been one consistent through it all – Head Coach Bob Hodge.
Hodge, near the end of his 28th season, and J.P. Holloway, who has been Hodge’s assistant coach for the last 15 years, have decided to step down from their respective positions at the end of the current 2011 season.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a number of very dedicated assistant coaches, all of whom improved the program and, in many cases, were the driving force behind the team’s success,” said Hodge.
Hodge took over the reins of the program prior to the 1984 season. The team won its first conference crown in 1992 and won again in 1994. They then captured three straight from 2000-02.
Holloway joined him on the sidelines prior to the 1997 season and the duo has produced plus-.500 seasons in ten of those 15 years.
“I started out coaching the team on my own,” continued Hodge. “Professor Bob Black helped out in the late eighties and early nineties before taking a position at Carroll. Heather Mernitz, who taught in the Biology department, was with me in the mid to late nineties and then J.P. came on in 1997 and we’ve been together since.”
Included in those 44 individual Champions are ten at #1 Singles, eight at #2 Singles and seven at #1 Doubles, all the most in MWC history.
“Over the last decade J.P. has been the on-court coach and a real key to our individual and team success,” said Hodge. “I can remember a match where Tatjana Kopylova and Julia Lebedeva, who won two MWC Doubles Championships and seven Singles Championships between them, were in their first year. They had never played doubles in Russia, only Singles. They were in a doubles match with a regionally-ranked team from Cornell and beat them in two sets. I was celebrating a great win but J.P. was looking ahead to the next match and had them off in a corner critiquing their performance. And that duo eventually finished second in the nation. That was all J.P.”
Hodge reached a milestone last Saturday with his 250th career dual-meet victory, a tight 5-4 decision over Judson University at the Strong Complex Tennis Courts.
“This kind of longevity is not common,” said Director of Athletics and Recreation Peggy Carl. “Bob Hodge stepping down marks the end of an era at Beloit College and in the Midwest Conference. They will be missed. We wish both of them and their families the very best and hope that they still come and visit us.”
Saturday will be the last regular season matches together for Hodge and Holloway as the Bucs host Grinnell College and St. Norbert College at the Strong courts beginning at 9:00 a.m.