Edwardsville Tennis Coaches, Program Receive Regional Awards

Emily Kloostra, Staff Writer

With free clinics for kids and a professional tennis tournament, the Edwardsville Tennis program has it all.

The USTA St. Louis District recognized the team’s efforts and named the program the St. Louis Organizational Member of the Year. Coaches Emily Cimarolli and Kirk Schlueter also won the St. Louis Junior Team Tennis Award.

The title of Member of the Year is given in “recognition of outstanding service,” according to the award criteria. The award also considers the impact to the community.

Programs must be nominated for awards, according to the USTA website.

“We didn’t ask to win the award, which makes it… more special,” Coach David Lipe said. “That somebody else thought enough of us to nominate us.”

Coach Lipe emphasized that the awards were not for him alone.

“I didn’t win an award, but it’s our organization as a whole…” he said. “We share the award with our entire coaching staff… and then also our big camp staff and all the kids and adults who participated in all of our programming, even all of our sponsors”

Coach Lipe also nominated coaches Cimarolli and Schlueter for the junior team award. Junior team tennis allows students to play in a team setting, according to coach Cimarolli.

“Tennis is a pretty independent sport by itself, so to be able to get the kids together as a group and have them work together to earn points and games for their team is pretty cool,” she said.

The two coaches had played on a junior team when they were younger and wanted to bring the program back to Edwardsville, coach Cimarolli said.

“We wanted to do [junior team tennis] because we wanted to give our kids more opportunities to play…” she said. “It was nice that we were able to bring it back to the Edwardsville area.”

EHS Athletic Director Alex Fox said the awards will have an impact on the overall sports program.

“Those types of recognitions don’t come around to high schools very often…” he said. “It continues to put us on the map on a larger scale.”

The commitment to tennis that Edwardsville has is what made the program a top candidate for organization of the year, according to coach Lipe.

“We got it because we offer so many programs and we do a good job with those programs…” he said. “From different camps to the junior team tennis… I think we won the award because of… all the different tennis opportunities we offer, and the variety of those opportunities.”

Mr. Fox said the tournaments and training Edwardsville offers distinguished the program from others.

“We are the only high school that hosts a pro tennis tournament in the United States…” he said. “It’s an exciting time for tennis… this is something that is well deserved.”

Coach Lipe said he hopes the community will take pride in the award.

“This is a unique award for us to win, and we’re very proud of it…” he said. “It’s a testament to the hard work of a lot of people.”