BEA duo both named Coaches of the Year
It was like the icing on the cake.”
That was the feeling of Blue Earth Area girls tennis head coach Konny Wolff when she learned she had been selected as Section 3A Tennis Coach of the Year.
And then, moments later she learned that her daughter, Karleigh Wolff, had been selected as Section 3A Assistant Coach of the Year.
The announcements came at the State Tennis Tournament Banquet, held on Monday evening, Oct. 21, the night before the State Tennis Tournament was about to begin.
“It was great that the team had accomplished their goal of getting to State,” Konny Wolff says. “So Karleigh and I getting these awards was just the topper for the week for us.”
This is the second year that Konny Wolff has had her daughter as her assistant coach.
Two years ago, Konny was looking for a new assistant, and suggested it to her daughter.
“I figured I might as well,” Karleigh says. “We were always talking about tennis and the team all the time anyway. My dad would ask if we could sometimes talk about something other than tennis. We said no.”
So Karleigh took her classes at Minnesota State University-Mankato online for the fall semester so she could become the Buccaneers girls tennis assistant coach.
“We work very well together,” Konny says. “We discuss strategy, player lineups and other things. Karleigh has good ideas, really knows about tennis, and is a great assistant coach.”
Both Konny and Karleigh Wolff do know a lot about tennis, and they know a lot about going to the State Tennis Tournament, not just as coaches, but as players themselves.
Konny Wolff went to State in the late 1970s, when the girls team was headed to State quite often, with Hal Schroeder as the coach.
Konny also went to the State Individual Tournament in 1978 as a singles player, and ended up in fifth place. In 1979, she went as a doubles team player, and ended up second in State.
Karleigh was a Buccaneer tennis player from 2009 through 2014.
“I started as a seventh grader,” she relates. “I saw Emily Slama go to State and she was really good. That really sparked my interest, and inspired me to put in the practice time and to work hard.”
It worked because Karleigh went to State in 2013, as a singles player in the Individual Tournament, then again in 2014, as a singles player, and the whole team also went. While the team placed sixth, Karleigh did not crack into the top six.
“I can always say that while Karleigh was probably a better tennis player than I was, I still got a State runnerup trophy,” Konny says with a laugh. “But there was a good reason why she didn’t.”
That reason was that Karleigh’s coach, Terry Barnes, had a health issue the night before she was playing singles. And, Karleigh was worried about her coach.
“The girl I was playing that next day was the one I had beat pretty easily in the team part of the tournament,” Karleigh says. “But I lost to that same girl in singles competition.”
What is up now for the dynamic doubles team of Coaches Wolff and Wolff?
“We are already talking about next year,” Konny confesses. “My husband thought maybe the tennis talk was over once the season was over, but he was wrong.”
The Buccaneer team should still be really good next year, with a large core group of juniors returning for their senior year.
“This year their goal was to get back to the State Tournament, because we had gone in 2017 then missed going in 2018,” Konny says. “But we gave them a new goal for next year, and that was not just get there, but to get a trophy. We came very close this year, but lost a close one for the consolation championship (fifth place).”
It would be very difficult for the team to win the State Championship, because of the private schools like Blake and Rochester Lourdes.
“Blake and Rochester have indoor courts and they play year ’round,” Konny says. “A lot of our girls are three sport athletes, but theirs only play tennis.”
The Blake School won the team, doubles and singles state tournament titles this year. And for the singles, it was two girls from Blake in the championship match going for first and second.
“They are very good,” Karleigh says. “But that doesn’t mean our girls are not going to play their best. I think they have more drive to do better next year than this year, after having come so close to taking fifth place.”
And, they have two award-winning coaches who want to guide them to their goal.