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ND Women’s Tennis: One last shot

Alex Barker | Thursday, April 23, 2009

Good leadership skills, a strong work ethic and a slew of natural talent are all qualities any coach would love to find somewhere on his team.

Irish coach Jay Louderback didn’t have to look past senior captain Kelcy Tefft before finding all three.

“If I had to describe Kelcy in one word, it would be committed,” Louderback said. “She has been our hardest worker and always puts extra time into being prepared to play. She has played with injuries but has done it for our team to succeed.”

A major key to success is finding an experienced veteran to lead a team into battle, and few teams can claim a more talented leader than Tefft.

The Enid, Okla., native boasts a 105-35 career record in singles and a 147-25 career record in doubles. She was named to the 2008 ITA All-American doubles team alongside long-time juniors and collegiate partner Brook Buck, who graduated last year. Tefft was also named to the Big East All-Tournament team in each of her first three years in both the singles and doubles competitions.

Of all the things she has accomplished in her illustrious career with the Irish, Tefft singled out last year’s doubles national championship as the one she won’t ever forget.

“Winning National Indoors last year with [Buck],” she said of her best memory with the Irish. “We had won five national tournaments in juniors and had been playing together for over 10 years. We came a long way together.”

When asked about the secret to her success, Louderback was quick to point to her team-first mentality.

“Kelcy has been a great example of how you can improve by working hard,” he said. “She still puts the team first and is a great example of what a team leader should be and how to handle that leadership. She also expects to win every match she plays, which rubs off on the rest of the team.”

As much fun and success as she enjoyed during her four years, Tefft said the one thing she will miss most will be her teammates and her coach.

“I will miss the girls the most. We spend so much time together and we are all very good friends. It will be hard not seeing them every day,” she said. “I also owe a lot of my success to [Louderback]. He has been a great coach and has really helped me improve my game throughout my four years.”

But she isn’t hanging up her racket just yet.

Believe it or not, there is one more achievement that has escaped Tefft and her teammates in three previous attempts – a team national championship.

“I’m really excited for our team this year at NCAAs. We are ranked fourth and we have a good chance of winning the whole thing,” she said. “This year, I think we have the most talented team that I have played on in my entire career.”

With or without a team title, Tefft couldn’t be more appreciative of her overall experience at Notre Dame.

“I have had an incredible four years at Notre Dame,” she said. “There is something special about wearing an Irish jersey because of the tradition of the school. I have also been very blessed with amazing teammates who have made my experience everything I could have hoped for.”

Tefft will take the court for the final tournament of her career when the Irish suit up for the first-round of the NCAA Championships on May 9 in College Station, Texas.