The support of her family and a strong desire to succeed has helped SIU women’s tennis coach Audra Nothwehr reach 200 career wins.
Mark Lemke, former tennis Coach at Concordia University, Neb., said even when he coached Nothwehr at Concordia University, he knew she would go on to be a successful head coach. Lemke was right.
The SIU women’s tennis team’s win against Northern Illinois University on Sunday marked Nothwehr’s 200th career win. Before she became the women’s coach in 2007, Nothwehr coached men’s and women’s tennis at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky.
Nothwehr’s record trails only former coach Judy Auld, who has 405 wins.
Nothwehr started as a graduate assistant for Lemke after a strong career at Concordia. She was the No. 1 singles and doubles player for CU as well as a varsity volleyball player. Nothwehr was named Great Plains Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2000, and Lemke said she was driven by her strong will to be successful.
“She was a pretty assertive tennis player, and I’m sure that helps her as a coach,” Lemke said. “She wasn’t the most coachable player, but on our team she was by far the best player, so I didn’t have to do a whole lot of coaching … she was a little headstrong, but that isn’t a bad thing for a tennis player.”
Nothwehr began her tennis at 9 years old when her parents took her to summer tennis lessons. She said her parents not only enrolled her in tennis camps and private lessons, but rarely missed a match of hers during high school and college. Their presence and support played a major role in her success, she said.
“Tennis is an individual sport, so you can get down on yourself really easily,” Nothwehr said. “My parents were always there with words of encouragement if I was down after a tough loss.”
While Nothwehr was a graduate assistant at Concordia, Lemke said he began to field calls about her possibly filling head coaching positions at other schools.
Although Lemke said he thought Nothwehr would have been a perfect replacement for him when he retired, he said he always gave glowing reviews to inquiring schools.
“I can remember the athletic director at Division II University Nebraska-Kearney asked if I thought she would be a good head coach,” Lemke said. “My response was, ‘she’ll be an even better coach than she was player.’”
Nothwehr got her first chance as a head coach at Lindsey Wilson College, part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, where she coached 141 wins between the men’s and women’s teams.
However, she said her time at Lindsey Wilson was not always a good one.
Nothwehr said she learned to become stronger mentally and not to take things personally as a coach.
In her three years at Lindsey Wilson, Nothwehr turned the tennis program into a national contender, athletic director Willis Pooler said.
Pooler said Nothwehr’s professionalism and recruiting prowess were some of her standout qualities as a coach.
“The quality of recruits she had while she was here were strong enough to compete at the Division 1 level,” Pooler said.
During her time at SIU, Nothwehr has had a record of 59-43. She credits the talent level of her players as the reason behind her success.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some good teams throughout my career, and I’m blessed that they want to win as bad as I do,” Nothwehr said.