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ND Women’s Tennis: Tefft adjusts to new role, inspires former teammate

Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Three years ago, then-senior captain Kelcy Tefft took the court alongside Kristy Frilling for the ITA Indoor National doubles championship match at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center. Last weekend, Tefft again watched her partner from that match, senior Kristy Frilling, walk onto the court for the National Indoor doubles final, but with one major difference. This time, Tefft wasn’t there as Frilling’s doubles partner, but as the coach aiding Frilling and senior Shannon Mathews.

Tefft, a former All-American and Big East Outstanding Player of the Year, said she never imagined returning to work at her alma mater after graduation, but Irish coach Jay Louderback said he saw the makings of a good coach while she was still a student-athlete.

“I always figured she would make a good coach because of how much she loves the game and how she likes to compete,” Louderback said. “Kelcy was like an assistant coach as a senior. She is very competitive and expected her teammates to also compete.”

So when former assistant coach Julia Scaringe moved away over the summer, Louderback made a call to Tefft, then an assistant coach at Tulsa.

“Jay called to ask if I was interested and I said no, just because I’m from Oklahoma and was closer to family,” Tefft said. “And then I reconsidered and called him back later. [Notre Dame has] been to the Final Four two times out of the last three years, and this is one of the best jobs in the country, so when I got that opportunity, I wanted to come back.”

Tefft said her new position has altered the way she interacts with her former teammates, but the transition has been a smooth one.

“It is different. Luckily, I was a senior and they were freshmen and I was their captain, so there was a little bit of a difference then,” Tefft said. “They’ve been very mature about it and they’ve been great. They work so hard and they’re ideal student-athletes, so they’ve made things a lot easier.”

Frilling said she looked to Tefft as a role model even when the two were teammates and doubles partners.

“I definitely looked up to Kelcy as a freshman, not only for the obvious reason of her being senior captain, but also because of the success she had, as well as her personality,” Frilling said. “Kelcy will always be a friend to me, but she will also always be someone I look up to no matter what positions we are in. I think our relationship is a bit more professional now since she is a coach rather than a teammate, but I still consider her a friend first, coach second.”

Tefft said rejoining Irish athletics has been a great experience so far.

“I never really saw myself coming back, just because it’s a different mindset, but South Bend’s been good, and working in the athletic department’s been wonderful,” Tefft said. “Everyone’s so nice and works so well together, so it’s been very pleasant.”

Frilling said she was glad to have Tefft back with the team during her own senior campaign.

“It’s kind of like we have come full circle. When I was a freshman she was in her last year, and now that I’m in my last year, she’s in her first year as a coach,” Frilling said. “She’s a great coach and I’m sure she will continue the legacy she left when she was a student-athlete here at Notre Dame.”

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu