Luther College Chips

Alumni Meet held on new courts following dedication

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Anders Jensen (‘18) and Jackie Cychosz (‘18) speak at the dedication ceramony .

Anders Jensen (‘18) and Jackie Cychosz (‘18) speak at the dedication ceramony .

Annie Goodroad (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Annie Goodroad (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Anders Jensen (‘18) and Jackie Cychosz (‘18) speak at the dedication ceramony .

Jonathan Kuehner, Staff Writer

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Current Luther tennis players and alums came together for the annual Alumni Meet on Saturday, Sept. 16. In addition to the meet, spectators and athletes participated in a dedication of the new tennis courts.

Present at the the dedication were players, coaches, alums, campus officials, community members, and spectators. College Pastor Mike Blair offered a word of prayer, followed by scripture readings from tennis players Jackie Cychosz (‘18) and Anders Jensen (‘18) and a few words from President Paula Carlson and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Renae Hartl. Luther College Trumpet Studio, directed by Assistant Director of Music John Cord, started and ended the dedication with fanfare music.

The ceremony concluded with a moment of silence for Bjorn Norderhaug who passed away last year and played on the Men’s Tennis team during his time at Luther.

An anonymous donation of just over one million dollars, made the new tennis courts possible.

“We’re grateful to the couple who has donated this money,” Kris Pressler (‘88) said. “The fact that they don’t even want to be recognized says an awful lot and they need to know that we’re going to enjoy these courts for a long time.”

Because the tennis courts are located outside, they are subject to changes in temperature and, much like roads, begin to crack after years of freezing and thawing. The new courts, however, are made to resist this cracking, creating a better playing surface and saving money in the future.

For former coach Susan Oertel (‘72), this is the third set of outdoor courts she has seen at Luther. Women’s tennis coach from 1975 to 2006, Oertel was present when the Men’s Alumni Meet began in late 70s. The Women’s Meet began later, and has traditionally been held later in the year, but this year both meets were held on the same day in order to celebrate the new courts.

The day began with rounds of men’s and women’s doubles, each match pitting current students against former players. As the day progressed, the format became more casual and play broke into a variety of men’s, women’s, and mixed matches.

The Alumni Meet is a social event and a celebration of the program.
“From my perspective of having gone to twenty-eight [Alumni Meets] over the years, we would have about seven alumni show up when I first started coming,” attendee Chris Hubbs (‘89) said. “Then you look at what we have here today. The event keeps growing because people just love seeing each other.”

Current students also have the opportunity to meet and socialize with former players.

Beyond the social aspects of the meet, the current players stand to benefit from participating, according to former coach and professor Emeritus of Management Richard Leake.

“It’s something that’s helpful not just for the alumni to reconnect with each other, but for the current player sto connect with alums. That helps them maybe with job connections down the road,” Leake said. “It’s also been one of the things that helps the varsity get ready for their fall matches.”

Leake was a coach at Luther alongside Oertel when the Alumni Meets began.
One alum found herself not only watching former teammates, but also her daughter, Britta Pressler (‘19), who is currently playing on the team at Luther.

“It’s just really fun to see that energy continued,” Pressler said. “She also has made lifetime friends just like we all did. She comes out here to play her heart out with her teammates and give the best job that they can. It’s a great setting, it’s what you want for your family members, too.”

Leake was hopeful about the future of tennis at Luther and the tradition the team and the meet has established.

“We’re looking for new people to carry on the tradition as well,” Leake said. “We’re looking for good students and talented tennis players who want to carry on the tradition.”

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