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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

Women's Tennis: Former Irish All-American rejoins team as assistant coach

Former Notre Dame All-American KelcyTefft will begin her new position as the assistant coach for the Irish when practices commence Friday.

As 2009 graduate of Notre Dame, Tefft is no stranger to the team. She holds the school record for most career wins (265) and was named Big East Player of the Year during her senior season.

"I'm very excited to be returning to Notre Dame as a coach," Tefft said. "Notre Dame has one of the best athletic departments in the country, so it is such an honor to be part of it."

Tefft graduated from Notre Dame with an incredible impact on the women's tennis program. She was a two-time All-American and a two-time participant in both the NCAA Singles Championship and NCAA Doubles Championship.

Tefft also has several personal experiences with current team members. Senior captains Shannon Mathews and Kristy Frilling were freshmen when Tefft was a senior.

"[Tefft] was one of the hardest workers on our team that year," Mathews said. "She was such a great leader. It's just kind of an awesome experience to have her bookend my college career."

Frilling served as Tefft's final collegiate doubles partner, as the pair ultimately reached a No. 2 national ranking.

"It definitely will be a bit weird at times because I'm so used to having her as a teammate, friend, and partner," Frilling said. "I know I'm going to want to just hang out with her, but now we'll have to have a bit more of a professional relationship. But it will still be great because she is a close friend and I'm really looking forward to seeing her again."

Tefft left the University of Tulsa where she spent two years as an assistant coach for the Golden Hurricane. In 2010, Tulsa broke into the ITA national polls at No. 19 with Tefft's help.

Back in South Bend, Tefft is excited to make the transition from her familiar role of player to the unknown role of being a part of the coaching staff.

"I'm thrilled to be working for Coach Louderback," Tefft said, referring to Irish head coach Jay Louderback, who coached her through all four years at Notre Dame. "I look forward to learning more from him, but now as a coach rather than a player."

Mathews said Tefft's return to the program should be a seamless transition from player to coach.

"She knows our team chemistry," Mathews said. "She's going to come in and fit perfectly, and it isn't going to take her any time to adjust."

Tefft is eager to see first-hand how her former teammates have grown in her absence.

"Shannon and Kristy have both improved a lot since their freshman year," Tefft said. "We will look for the same level of leadership from them this year as co-captains."

For now, Frilling and Mathews have been leading practices and conditioning workouts for the fall tournaments, which begin Oct. 1.

"Once we start with the coaches, we're going to be getting ready for the fall tournaments as well as improving our conditioning and getting a good base for our lifting that can take us through the entire season," Mathews said.

Mathews said all of the girls are eager to meet their new coach.

"Even the girls who haven't met her are excited," Mathews said. "They see her All-American banner when we practice. They all can't wait to have her as a part of the team."