Knowing the Fall sports season is right around the corner, Saucon Source caught up with Saucon Valley High School tennis coach Joann Ochse the other day at her courtside office on campus. Coach Ochse has been overseeing the tennis program here for the past eight years. She was very busy, but took some time to answer a few questions. Check out what she had to say!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you got to school?
A: I was born and raised in Cornwall, New York. I graduated from Cornwall High School in 1964 and then attended Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey.
Q: How were you first introduced to tennis and what accolades did you receive in tennis?
A: There were no sports available to females when I was in high school and I did not play in college. Both my husband and I started playing tennis in the early 70’s. We drilled together regularly and motivated each other. We became a solid mixed doubles team winning numerous local tournaments. I competed on many USTA (United States Tennis Association) women and mixed teams, played in the Bux-Mont League and Philadelphia Cup League.
Q: What can you tell us about your tennis coaching experiences?
A: My first coaching experience was at Saucon Valley when my two older daughters (Jennifer and Samantha) were playing tennis. I volunteered and really enjoyed the experience. From there I was head boys and girls coach at Emmaus and then an assistant at Lehigh University for a year before being named the head women’s coach there. I retired from coaching at Lehigh in 1998. A number of years later I coached the girls tennis team at Nazareth High School until the position at Saucon Valley opened up in 2007. I jumped at the chance to return to Saucon where I had started 30 years earlier.
Q: What things do you like best about coaching tennis at Saucon Valley?
A: I like the smaller school atmosphere, the athletic staff, the kids and the outstanding tennis facility. We are fortunate to have eight newly reconstructed tennis courts.
Q: What is the most important characteristic you want in your players, and what do you hope they leave your program with?
A: I want my players to always work and play hard. I want them to respect the sport and show good sportsmanship. I hope my players leave the program with a passion for the sport and will continue to play for the rest of their lives. I want them to learn that success comes through hard work. I hope they will always value the rewards of being a part of a team. Wins and losses fade, but the memories of teammates and the experiences they have shared stay forever.
Q: What were your highlights from last season?
A: The girls finished with a record of 11-7. It was great to see the girls have a winning record years after enduring three losing seasons. They were a close-knit team and I will miss the seniors’ energy and enthusiasm. They were a joy to work with.
Q: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
A: My personal goals are to have the kids improve and get more of them playing in the off-season. I am starting to see more kids taking tennis lessons and attending clinics now, compared to when I first started at Saucon.
Q: Can you give us a breakdown of your upcoming roster?
A: Currently we have five seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and six freshmen registered. Key returners are Mina Fisher, Hannah Maykut, Meghan Altemose, Wakana Nakajima, Emily Ackerman, Megan Gatchel, Allyson Starr, Olivia Williams, Mikayla Yeager, Jillian Cosgrave, Allie Houck, Katie Hoff and Emily Youells.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are new to tennis?
A: Beginners have the idea that tennis is easy to play. They quickly realize that to be good you have to put in a great deal of time developing basic skills. Learning skills and developing consistency are their biggest challenges.
The Saucon Valley tennis program is looking forward to a great 2016 season. If any Saucon Valley students in grades 9-12 are interested in playing tennis for the Panthers, you are encouraged to pay Coach Ochse a visit at the tennis courts for open play on Thursday 7/21, Monday 7/25 or Thursday 7/28. She and the rest of her crew will be there from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Whatever you decide, be sure to register for your Fall sport at Saucon Valley before July 24, 2016!
Best of luck this upcoming season to Coach Ochse and the Saucon Valley Girls Tennis team. The Source is with you!