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First-Year Head Calvin Women’s Tennis Coach Kevin Van Haitsma Receives Prestigious Award

Friday, February 28, 2014

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By Mark DeHaan

When the women’s tennis coaching position opened up last spring, 2005 Calvin graduate Kevin Van Haitsma was eager for the opportunity to return to Calvin as a tennis coach. An assistant for four years from 2006-09, Van Haitsma enjoyed coaching at the collegiate level before his professional teaching became too time consuming.

“When the head coaching position became available I jumped at the chance to get back coaching tennis for Calvin as a head coach,” said Van Haitsma. “I loved being an assistant coach, and coaching college tennis is one of my passions.”

Van Haitsma was named first team All-MIAA three times in his tennis career as a Knight. After graduating, Van Haitsma worked at two athletic clubs in the Grand Rapids area, first at the Orchard Hills Swim and Sports Club and then at the Michigan Athletic Club, holding positions as a full-time teaching pro, tennis manager, and operations manager. Van Haitsma also hosted numerous tennis clinics and educational workshops during this time for both area players and tennis instructors.

For his work in furthering the game of tennis in Michigan, Van Haitsma was recently named the Michigan Member of the Year by the Professional Tennis Registry. Van Haitsma traveled down to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to receive the award at the PTR Headquarters. The board of the PTR votes on the award, selecting the candidate they find has done the most to influence tennis in the state.

“It’s definitely an honor to win the award,” said Van Haitsma. “A lot of the people that have won the award in past years are considered leaders in the tennis industry, and it’s an honor to be named in that same group.”

With spring fast approaching, Van Haitsma now turns his attention to his first season at the helm of the women’s tennis program.

The Knights return just three players from a team that finished fourth in the MIAA last season. Senior Bethany Zoerhof, junior Megan Visser, and junior Courtney Selvius are the returning trio for Calvin. Zoerhof played most of last year at fourth singles and first doubles, teaming up with Visser, who also played at first singles. Selvius will be stepping into the lineup for the first time this year.

“We have Megan Visser returning at No. 1 singles, who is making improvements every year. This is her third year at No. 1 singles so she has seen some of the players there before, and I know her expectations are higher than the past couple years,” said Van Haitsma. “Bethany Zoerhof is a returning senior, and Courtney Selvius, as a junior, (will be consistently) in the lineup for the first time and is ready to contribute in a big way.”

Calvin adds to the three returning players just four freshman for a small team of only seven. With the lack of numbers, the freshmen will have to step up and contribute early. While singles play will be important, Coach Van Haitsma views doubles, and how chemistry between players develops, as important as well.

“A big part (to our success) will be how we develop in doubles partnerships. Hopefully we keep improving throughout the year and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Even though snow remains on the ground, the Knights have already begun their season, starting off with a win against in-town foe Cornerstone and then dropping a pair of matches against tough teams down in Chicago.

“We started out the season with a nice win against Cornerstone, then took on two very tough, regionally-ranked teams in Wheaton and Coe last weekend down in Chicago,” said Van Haitsma. “We competed hard and we battled, and we’ll definitely learned from that and we’ll get ready for the next matches.”

The goals of the team this season are to improve on last year’s fourth place finish while also pushing the players to play in top form. Of course, having not won an MIAA title since 2010, Van Haitsma says that is the number one goal moving forward.

“The number one goal every year in our program is the MIAA championship – anything past that is gravy. We’ll look to keep building the program and get some recruits in. We’re very happy with the team that we have this year and we’ll look to build on it. The focus is on this year, and we’ll look to keep expanding and improving on future years.”

The Knights continue non-conference play through March, traveling down to Orlando, Florida, for a spring break trip before beginning conference play at home against Alma on April 1.

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