La Roche College Turns it Around

La Roche College coach Aaron Wilf speaks proudly about his women’s tennis team. After all, he has plenty to be proud of.

Never eclipsing the three-win mark prior to 2011, La Roche piled up the accomplishments this past season, winning the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tennis Tournament and finishing the season with a nine-match winning streak and an 11-5 record.

All of that came after a 2-5 start, which would have crippled many teams.

“I’m probably most proud of how we turned it around,” Wilf said. “We were really struggling at 2-5, and our goal was just to win the next match. We got a win, and it all turned around.”

Possibly more impressive than the turnaround this season is the program’s turnaround as a whole since Wilf took over as coach. The school never had a winning season until 2011, and a slow start to 2012 wasn’t exactly planned. But pulling it together for a second-straight winning season meant the world to a team that worked so hard to earn respect in the DIII tennis world.

Wilf, a four-year player at Dickinson College, helped orchestrate the change. He mostly credited his players, who combine to make a unique roster. Four players come from local, Pittsburgh-area high schools, while two others come from Bujumbura, Burundi, which borders Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It makes for an interesting mix for a team with an interesting, evolving story.

“We definitely have a unique team,” he said. “For a small school in Pittsburgh, I can’t imagine the odds that you’d have that type of roster.”

La Roche will take part in the Division III NCAA Tournament in May.

For more info on the team and program, visit its official Web site.

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