Former player returns to alma mater as coach
January 10, 2011 —
Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.
These words ring true for Jennifer Boehm, a former SVSU athlete who was hired on Dec. 21, to return and coach her alma mater’s women’s tennis team.
Boehm played four years of tennis for SVSU from 1999 to 2003 before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She will take over the position that was headed by Career Services Director Mike Major before his resignation following the 2010 fall season.
Major, who was voted GLIAC Coach of the Year in 2010, attributed his resignation to the desire to spend more time with his family and the time constraints of a busy schedule. In addition to his full-time job with Career Services, Major is a member of the United States Navy Reserves.
“The primary factor was that my wife and I had a baby,” Major said. “We started tennis training camp this year on Aug. 14 and I did not have a day off until Oct. 31. I wasn’t going to be the type of dad I want to be, doing that much.”
Major held the head coach position from 2003 to 2010, an eight-year span that saw many changes for the SVSU tennis program.
“When I came in, we had some tennis balls and some tennis courts, but now there’s a new stringing machine, there’s a locker room and a brand new tennis facility,” Major said. “It’s a very stabile and attractive tennis job if you look at NCAA athletics in general.”
Boehm will take over a young team coming off a seventh place finish at the GLIAC Championships in 2010, and hopes to improve that finish.
“We’re only losing one senior, so we definitely have a chance to grow and get better,” Boehm said. “Hopefully, that will help propel us to new heights for this program.”
The team, which finished with five wins and nine losses in 2010, features a starting lineup that consists of five underclassmen, including sophomore Yunjiao Shangguan, who earned all-GLIAC honors in 2010.
“Everyone is returning, except for one player,” Boehm said. “We know what we’re working with and I think we have some potential in our freshmen and sophomores this year.”
Boehm hopes that her recent experiences as both a player and a coach can bring a fresh atmosphere to the team.
“I feel like I bring a unique perspective in that I know what it’s like to be a player and I’ve also been a coach now for six years over at the Midland Community Tennis Center,” Boehm said. “I think that having that connection is an important thing when you’re trying to motivate and inspire a team.”
Boehm plans to use her experience to improve the individual skills of her players and implement more practice time into the team’s schedule.
“We’re definitely looking to increase our offseason play,” Boehm said. “In the past, there hasn’t been a lot, so getting more match play and training in the offseason will be the big thing.”
Although Boehm may have the responsibility of coaching the team, she is not without support.
“I’ve talked with Coach Boehm,” Major said. “I’m going to be here with her if she has any questions or needs any help with anything and I’m always going to be here for the players.”
Both Boehm and Major are confident in the team’s ability to succeed in 2011.
“We have a lot of potential on our team, so we should definitely be able to elevate ourselves a little bit more in the conference,” Boehm said.
Major was even more optimistic about the young team.
“I think you’re going to see great things from them,” he said. “It’s a program moving in the right direction and I look forward to watching them all continue to grow and develop over the years.”