Longtime tennis coach inducted into MAC Hall of Fame

contact: Kristin Keirns
| WMU News
Photo of Jon Steinbrecher and Betsy Kuhle.

Kuhle, right, poses with Steinbrecher. (Photo courtesy of WMU Intercollegiate Athletics)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Betsy Kuhle, who for more than three decades guided the Western Michigan University women's tennis team as head coach and has the most wins of any coach in that sport in Mid-American Conference history, has been inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame.

The MAC presented the 2017 MAC Hall of Fame Induction Class, which included Kuhle and five other new members, during the MAC Honors Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel Wednesday, May 31.

"It is only appropriate for our conference to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our former students, coaches and administrators, specifically these six individuals, and their achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American Conference," said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC commissioner. "We are honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame."

2017 MAC Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Jen Brown-Mascari, Ball State, field hockey
  • Dwight Gardner, Ohio, wrestling
  • Antonio Gates, Kent State, men's basketball
  • Betsy Kuhle, WMU, women's tennis
  • Dan Majerle, Central Michigan, men's basketball
  • Ron Oestrike, Eastern Michigan, baseball

First in tennis

Kuhle becomes the first ever member inducted from the conference in the sport of tennis—men's or women's. She is the 11th Bronco overall to be inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame. WMU has had a former athlete or coach enter the MAC Hall of Fame for the past five consecutive years, dating back to 2013.

Kuhle

Kuhle led the WMU women's tennis program for 33 years as head coach from 1983 to 2015 and is the all-time winningest women's tennis coach in the history of the MAC with 545 career wins.

She ranks second in the history of the NCAA Division I for wins in women's tennis and is one of only two MAC women's tennis coaches with 250-plus wins, with the next highest career mark at 276. Kuhle is one of only 15 MAC coaches across all sports—male and female—to reach 500 career wins, which ranks 10th all-time for career wins, third among females, and is the longest tenured coach ever at WMU.

Kuhle was named MAC Women's Tennis Coach of the Year eight times during her coaching career, won 11 MAC regular season championships, five MAC Tournament championships (the tournament began in 1997) and guided WMU to four NCAA Tournament appearances.

She coached three MAC Players of the Year (the award began in 1998), five MAC Newcomer/Freshman of the Year recipients (the award began in 1994), and five fellow Western Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. She coached 68 of WMU's 73 All-MAC recognitions in school history and 60 Academic All-MAC selections. She also coached four players with 200-plus career wins and four players with over 100-career singles wins.

11 undefeated seasons

During her career, Kuhle had 11 undefeated MAC seasons, including a run of four-straight from 2005 to 2008, with the team's record at 33-0 during that span. WMU finished first or runner-up in the MAC in 24 of 33 seasons, had a 30-year streak of never finishing lower than third in the MAC from 1983 to 2012, and had seven seasons with 20-plus wins, including a school record 23-win season. She finished with a career winning percentage of .649 with a record of 545-295.

Kuhle was honored by the United States Tennis Association as a Blue Ribbon Tournament Director and was involved with USTA summer events for 25-plus years. She served on the ITA Midwest Regional committee from 1992 to 1995 and 2000 to 2003, and also served on the ITA Board of Directors. Kuhle was a 2006 inductee into the Western Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame.

WMU was named ITA All-Academic Team for 20 straight years from 1996-2015, with a team cumulative GPA of at least 3.20. Since 1996, the Broncos had 69 ITA Scholar Athletes with a GPA of 3.50 or better.

A 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in finance, Kuhle played No. 1 singles for the Illini. She received a master's degree in business administration from WMU in December of 1987. A native of Decatur, Ill., she captured the 1994 ITA 35-and-over title and ranked as high as fourth in the Western Tennis Association's rankings.

Read more about WMU women's tennis at wmubroncos.com.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.