Weatherholt Leads Nebraska to New Heights
by Colette Lewis
, 22 February 2013
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Kansas City's Mary Weatherholt was not quite five years old when Lindsay Davenport's Olympic gold medal in Atlanta inspired her to take up the sport.
Big 12 Rookie and B1G Player of the Year Mary Weatherholt
Despite setbacks along the way, the Nebraska Cornhusker
senior has nurtured that initial love of the game, leading her team to new heights while establishing herself as one of the nation's top collegians.
Weatherholt's family had no previous familiarity with the game, but she credits her parents for recognizing the enthusiasm she had for it.
"My parents never pushed me, they didn't care," says Weatherholt, who has two younger brothers, neither of whom are involved in tennis. "I just wanted to play all the time. So I trained full time - I worked with almost all the coaches in Kansas City, so it's hard to go through the list - until my freshman year in high school, when I quit tennis for a bit. I thought I was done."
Citing burnout and bad coaching when she was younger as reasons for that decision, Weatherholt reconsidered the summer after her freshman year at Shawnee Mission South high school, crediting Homestead Country Club Tennis Director Kevin Kowalik with helping rekindle her interest.
"He's a big reason I started playing tennis again seriously," says Weatherholt, the Kansas state high school 6A singles champion in 2006. "I guess I found my love for the game again in high school and found I wanted to play - it was coming from me."
Weatherholt, a five-star in the Tennis Recruiting Network's rankings, played little on the national scene, with her best result, a bronze ball at the 2007 USTA 16s Winter Nationals, coming after she had already committed to the Cornhuskers.
With no family connection to Nebraska - both of Weatherholt's parents are professors at the University of Missouri-Kansas City - Kowalik again played a role.
"Another coach at Homestead actually played at Nebraska and he knew coach (Scott) Jacobson," says Weatherholt of her introduction to the longtime head coach at Nebraska. "He said he's a great coach and great guy, so that was the initial connection."
Jacobson emailed Weatherholt the first day it was allowed under NCAA rules, and Weatherholt set up an unofficial visit.