Sterling College brings back tennis

By: Anna Adamyk

Sterling College announced the launch of their tennis program at the end of June 2016. Now, over a year later, the tennis program has brought in 13 recruits—all freshmen— aside from junior transfer student Andrew Wright.

It has been eight years since Sterling College offered tennis as a competitive sport. Tennis phased out of of the College due to lack of interest from students and recruits and lack of leadership through a coaching position. But Sterling College’s Athletic Director, Gary Kempf, explained that tennis needed to happen again for the school and for the community.

“Tennis has been around for a long time. It will always be around. So it was a very easy add,” Kempf explained. “It was finding the right person to run the program. That was the key. It was a very easy thing to see that it would be the right sport for us to add.”

Lonnie Isaac
Coach Lonnie Isaac

Kempf found the right person in Lonnie Isaac. Coach Isaac brings experience to the program from coaching strong tennis teams in the past. Isaac came to Sterling College after head coaching tennis at Bethel College in Newton, KS., since 2006. Before coaching at Bethel College, he coached at Tabor College in Hillsboro, KS. During his time at both colleges, Isaac led his teams to multiple KCAC Championship games, winning six in a row with the Lady Threshers from 2008 to 2013. Isaac has also won KCAC Coach of Year six times.

Once a solid coach was hired, the athletic department started necessary renovations on the tennis courts on Sterling’s campus. The renovation began in the winter of 2017 and was finished by the time classes ended for summer. While the courts were upgraded, Isaac worked hard to fill his roster.

Both Kempf and Isaac spoke of the spiritual emphasis they hope to provide in sports. They expect God to be at the center of everything they do, including sports. “One of the aspects of hiring Lonnie here was to increase our spiritual emphasis as an athletic program,” said Kempf.

Isaac shares this same viewpoint with Kempf and spoke of his priority in coaching. “My hope is that we’re going to bring in young men and young women who I can impact them and help them grow in that [spiritual] walk. It has to be an intentional side of the program…I’m competitive. I want to win. I want to hang a championship banner here at some point. But if we do things the right way, the winning takes care of itself.”

Isaac also expressed plans to grow the program at semester, saying he would “like to have 10 [women] and 10 [men] on the roster.” Building a program takes time and effort from all sides of the athletic department. Although the team is in their building year, coaches and fans are excited for this new addition to Sterling College athletics.

The tennis team had several tournaments early this fall, but their official season kicks off in the spring on March 2 against Concordia University in Seward, NE. Their full schedule can be found at scwarriors.com.