Judy Ronning and the Pacific Northwest 2.5 Men’s team.
© Juan Ocampo
By John Freeman, special to USTA.com
Rancho Mirage, California – As Judy Ronning sees her role as coach of the Pacific Northwest 2.5 Men’s team, it’s very similar to her weekday job as a disciplinarian with the Tacoma school district.
"I call myself a professional whip-cracker," she said. "I have to crack the whip and make sure my guys behave, just like my kids at school."
Based out of Bally’s Fitness Center in Federal Way, WA, east of Tacoma, her team reached the USTA Nationals for the first time in three years of coaching.
"These guys are so awesome," said Ronning, herself a 3.5-rated player. "They all love the game and I love them all, even after spending four straight days on the road with them."
Asked why she enjoys coaching a men’s team, Ronning doesn’t hesitate.
"I’ve always said that I like being around men," she said. "Men are so much more cool under fire. To me, there just aren’t as many issues to deal with. And the guys seem to really appreciate that I do my best to keep things organized."
Maybe a tad bit too organized, comes the gentle rib from teammate Darran Hanson. "I mean, she even tells us what shirts we should wear, on what days," he said. "We really don’t mind that much. She’s not only our coach, she’s our den mother."
For her part, Ronning prefers "fairy godmother" but concedes she’s a whiz at keeping things organized, especially during practice. What instructional or motivational advice that doesn’t get said, she’ll include in volumnious emails to her guys.
"They’re like stream of consciousness, a loose collection of whatever’s on her mind at the moment, said team member Mike Dolan. "It’s Judy’s other side, like Jack Kerouac writing about tennis."
Call it the softer side of their favorite whip-cracker.