A 2006 inductee into the Western Michigan Athletic Hall of Fame, women’s tennis head coach Betsy Kuhle has long since established the women’s tennis program as not only one of the top programs in the Mid-American Conference, but the region as well. The longest-tenured coach at WMU in any sport, the 2012-13 season will mark the 31st year that Kuhle will guide the Bronco tennis program. Kuhle also holds the MAC record with seven MAC Coach of the Year awards.
The Broncos have won eight of the last 15 MAC championships (1997,
1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) and 11 total (1984, 1990,
1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) under Kuhle’s
direction. Western Michigan also claimed the first two MAC automatic
NCAA berths (1999, 2000) since the conference was granted that benefit
The most decorated coach in the MAC, Kuhle has won a conference-record seven-time MAC Coach of the Year (1990, 1995, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008). She was recognized as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association-Volvo Midwest Coach of the Year in 1990 after WMU finished eighth in Region IV. The WMU Alumni “W” Club honored Kuhle as its Woman of the Year in 1998.
The program’s academic success parallels the Broncos’ success on the court. Fifty-three of Kuhle’s players have been named to the MAC All-Academic team; eight have been named ITA/Volvo Scholar-Athletes; and three were GTE Academic All-District choices. Kuhle’s program has been honored as an ITA All-Academic team 16 years in a row, and there have been an amazing total of 51 Broncos named to the ITA All-Academic Team in that time.
Kuhle has done much for tennis in the Kalamazoo community as well, hosting the USTA Midwest Boys' and Girls' 14s Zone Championships at Sorensen Courts for a number of years. Active in the profession, Kuhle has served on the ITA Board of Directors and a member of the operating committee. She was also chair of the ITA Midwest Regional committee from 1992-95 and 2000-03.
The 2012 season saw Kuhle reach the 500-win milestone as a head coach, when the Broncos opened up conference play with a 7-0 drubbing of Northern Illinois at West Hills Athletic Club. WMU would go 17-11 in 2012, the best wins total for the Broncos since they won 21 matches in the 2008-09 season, and the Broncos' third-place finish in 2012 would continue their 30-year streak of never finishing lower than third under Kuhle.
The Broncos would win their final three regular season MAC matches of the season before entering the MAC Tournament, where they were afforded the opportunity to get revenge against Buffalo, who had defeated the Broncos earlier in the season. Freshman Caroline Aleck scored the match-deciding victory, giving the Broncos a 4-3 win and sending them to the tournament semifinals against Akron.
Aleck would go on to be named the recipient of the team's first annual Unsung Hero Award, given to the player whose signficant contributions to the success of the team may otherwise go unrecognized. Teammate Kathleen Hawkins was voted the Amy Yeast MVP, voted on by the team and given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of hard work, dedication, and teamwork.
Outgoing senior Rachel Denny earned her second career Academic All-MAC honor, while sophomore Nini Sujashvili received her first Academic All-MAC honor in her first year of eligibility for the award. Three other Broncos were named as Academic All-MAC Honorable mentions; the five Broncos recognized ranked as the second-most for a single team in the conference, behind just Bowling Green's six honorees.
Kuhle guided a Broncos team with just one senior (Amanda Moccia) to a third-place finish in the MAC in 2011, closing the season on a four-match MAC win streak heading into the conference tournament. For the second straight year, the Broncos knocked out in-state rival Eastern Michigan in the quarterfinal round, dropping the hosting Eagles 4-2 when Rachel Denny won the No. 6 singles match in three sets.
Freshman Nini Sujashvili was named the 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year as well as a First-Team All-MAC selection, posting a 20-13 record for the Broncos in her rookie campaign. Sujashvili represented the 21st First-Team selection for the Broncos since the conference moved to a First- and Second-Team system in 1994, an average of better than one a year. In addition, Maggie Remynse was named Second-Team All-MAC.
Junior Rachel Denny was voted the 2011 Amy Yeast Team Most Valuable Player by her teammates, as was also selected as the team's captain for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Both Denny and graduating senior Amanda Moccia were named to the Academic All-MAC team, the third such honor for Denny and second for Moccia.
In 2010, Kuhle led a young team to the finals of the MAC Tournament for the sixth year in a row before bowing out to regular season champion Miami. Entering the tournament as the three-seed, the Broncos reached the finals by defeating nationally-ranked Akron 4-3 in the semis on senior Yumi Matsuto's last match victory. Senior Emily Dudzik earned Second Team All-MAC honors for the second season in a row, while Dudzik and Amanda Moccia were named Academic All-MAC
The 2009 Broncos were one of Kuhle's younger squads, with four freshmen seeing time on the court. Despite this, the Broncos had the best overall record among MAC teams (21-8) and reached the finals of the MAC Tournament. Senior Kerstin Pahl ended her outstanding career as arguably the best player in conference history with MAC records in singles wins (114) and overall wins (232) and the second-most doubles wins (118). She also earned the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award to become the first MAC women's tennis player to ever earn a national ITA award. Pahl was named First Team All-MAC, while Emily Dudzik earned Second Team All-MAC honors and Ashley Moccia was tabbed as the Leann Grimes Davidge Sportsmanship Award recipient. The Broncos also placed Pahl and Amanda Moccia, who were nationall-ranked in doubles throughout much of the season, on the Academic All-MAC Team.
Western Michigan continued its dominance of the Mid-American Conference
in 2008 by claiming a fourth-straight undefeated MAC regular season
championship (8-0). The Broncos haven’t lost a MAC regular season match
since the end of the 2004 season, a streak of 34 consecutive victories.
The Broncos advanced all the way to the MAC Tournament final before
losing a hearbreaker to Buffalo, 4-3.