Former coach Roger Pribbenow was in attendance for Oregon girls tennis’ first practice Tuesday, Aug. 13, but there was a new leader commanding the courts.
Joan Mohr, a regular on the local tennis scene, is the new varsity head coach at Oregon.
She succeeds co-coaches Terry Geurkink and Alec Onesti.
Mohr, 67, is a Mauston High School and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse graduate.
She played softball collegiately, but never lost her love for tennis.
Mohr served as Fitchburg’s recreation director for 20 years, as she built up the youth tennis program in the town she still calls home.
“I started all the tennis programs,” she said. “I got kids when they were four years old and taught them how to play.”
Mohr was the junior varsity coach at Stoughton the last three seasons, but seized the opportunity to be a head coach of the Vikings’ chief rival.
“There was the chance to be a head coach, and I thought I could do it,” Mohr said. “It’s close where I live and I knew all the coaches. Plus, I’ve heard that Oregon has super kids, and I’m excited for it.”
Mohr still coaches tennis in the Monona recreation program, and hasn’t given up playing, either. She has competed in tournaments in Houston, Texas; Naples, Florida; Palm Desert, California and various locations in Michigan.
Mohr also takes lessons at the John Powless Tennis Center and the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, where she’s seen some her current players taking lessons, as well.
Tennis coaches in Wisconsin can only have five days of contact during the offseason. Mohr got her first glimpse at the team in late July, but was pleasantly surprised to hear seniors Jordana Burkeland, Anna Donovan and Gianna Schulz already had the Panthers practicing.
“Those three captains from last year have organized practices at the courts where they just hit and play,” Mohr said. “I’ve never seen that before. They already have a leg up because they’ve been hitting all year.”
Burkeland played No. 3 varsity singles last season, while Schulz was slotted at No. 1 varsity doubles. Fellow returning letterwinners Lauren Gragg, Joanie Sommers and Donovan played varsity doubles.
Junior Jordan Streiff played varsity No. 3 doubles in 2018, while classmate Ellie Koopman could make the jump from JV No. 1 singles to varsity No. 1 singles this season. Fellow junior Andrea Bennett has singles and doubles experience, and sophomore Emma Schaeffer played JV singles last year.
“Right now, we’re trying to select teams,” Mohr said. “We’re going through the different strokes, going through our serves, and playing doubles matches. We’ll then see who our top players are and make a lineup.”
The Panthers begin their season Aug. 21 at the McFarland Quadrangular.