Women’s tennis team looks for turnaround

Megan Kimpel and first-year Mackenzie Calton celebrate winning a point during their 8-6 doubles match victory against Greensboro College.//Photo By Andrew Walker/The Guilfordian

Guilford College’s women’s tennis head coach Kim Kleimeier is looking to turn the program around after the team has gone 2-28 combined over the past two seasons. The team has not had a winning record since the 2007-08 season under head coach Jenn Anderson.

After three years as an assistant to Dave McCain, Kleimeier will lead a team of nine players, including three returners. There have been a lot of changes to the program since she has taken charge.

“The structure of how we manage the team is very different now,” Kleimeier said. “So, we’re kind of in a restructuring phase where there’s been a lot of recruiting that’s been done now for the upcoming year, which means we had to pull a lot of players from on-campus to be on the team.”

Senior Makayla McLaurin returns at No. 1 singles, senior Olivia La Ganza moves into second singles and junior Megan Kimpel moves up from fifth to third singles.

The Quakers have started the 2019 season with two losses. A 9-0 loss to Roanoke College started the year off and that was followed by a 7-2 loss to Greensboro College. First-year Mackenzie Calton picked up 6-4, 7-5 win at the number four singles and along with Kimpel, won the No. 2 doubles 8-6.

With only part of the team having experience playing tennis, Kleimeier has been focusing on teaching tennis.

“I have five athletes on the team that are completely new to tennis, that have essentially not played it before,” said Kleimeier. “Some of them don’t have a huge athletic background so they’re really putting themselves outside the comfort zone. But they’ve been doing beautifully, (are) catching on quick, they’re great additions to the team. (…) It’s been a lot of work but it’s been a lot of fun at the same time.”

Kleimeier graduated from Guilford in 2013. She had 35 career victories in two seasons with the Quakers. In 2011-12 she was named to the Third Team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) honors for her doubles performance where she won 10 matches. She posted a 16-22 overall singles record and a 19-21 overall doubles mark.

“I was fortunate to have teammates that were pretty close to my ability level,” said Kleimeier. We had pretty much six to seven players that had a tennis background and had enough depth to where we could be competitive with most every school in the conference.”

Kleimeier has worked at the Precision Tennis Academy running the junior academy, where she has taught beginner to advanced kids and adults.

“I have a kind of set system of how to essentially teach somebody tennis from nothing,” said Kleimeier. “Where this is different, I think is that there’s more pressure to get them prepared quicker because I don’t want them to get on the court and have a poor experience.”

Kleimeier has also been working on recruiting high school tennis players to come play at Guilford. Over the past couple year, the team has done a lot of recruiting of Guilford students and not had people coming to Guilford to play tennis. An advantage for Kleimeier in the recruiting is that the potential recruits would have an opportunity to start as a first-year and help improve the program.

“Having a team that is maybe not as strong it’s really exciting that a first-year coming in has an opportunity to actually start,” said Kleimeier. “So, looking at it from ‘You will definitely have an opportunity to compete against very strong schools in our conference and we’ll be able to develop the team year after year it’s going to get stronger.”

The team will look to improve on last year’s record of 1-14 overall and 0-11 in conference.

The Quakers travel to Mary Baldwin University tomorrow, Feb. 23 for a match before hosting Salem College on Sunday, Feb. 24.