Aug. 26, 2000



Horton begins first season at NKU with talented lineup


HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - J. Webb Horton can’t wait to get started, and who can blame him?

Horton, who is beginning his first season as Northern Kentucky University’s women’s tennis head coach, inherits six returning starters from last year’s 14-4 team that captured its second consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference championship. The Norse also advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament and defeated Truman State in the first round.

Among the returnees is two-time GLVC Player of the Year Jamie O’Hara, who has never lost to a GLVC opponent in No. 1 singles competition. Also back are three other All-GLVC performers from a year ago.

Horton, who spent the past five years at GLVC rival Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne as the men’s and women’s tennis head coach, has high expectations for his 2000-01 Norse. He takes over for two-time GLVC Coach of the Year Dave Bezold, who became a full-time assistant men’s basketball coach during the summer.

“It’s a luxury as a coach to have this type of talent on a roster,” Horton said. “There is a certain sense of maturity with these kids, and they have been great in adapting to some new ideas about technique.

“I am very fortunate to inherit this group of talented tennis players from Dave Bezold. He did a fabulous job of putting this team together, bringing two straight GLVC championships to NKU, and I hope to continue the legacy that Dave started with this program.”

NKU, which has won 26 consecutive GLVC matches dating back to 1997, is led by O’Hara (14-2 overall, 9-0 GLVC last season). She enters her junior season with a 22-0 all-time record against GLVC opponents.

“Jamie O’Hara is a great player, as evidenced by being two-time GLVC Player of the Year,” Horton said. “I want to see her go to the net more this season, because it will make her an even better player.”

NKU also welcomes back junior Lauren Spears, an All-GLVC performer at No. 2 singles last year. Spears posted a 9-0 record in the GLVC last season and was 12-4 overall. Junior Amity Chapman (9-1 GLVC at No. 4 singles) and senior Claudia Ruehl (8-0 GLVC at No. 5 singles) both earned All-GLVC honors and return.

“I knew Lauren Spears was a good player, but I did not really know how good she was until I came to NKU,” Horton said. “She is a mentally tough tennis player with lots of talent, and it is easy to see why she is an all-conference player.”

“Amity Chapman has the ability and talent to be one of the top players in our conference,” Horton said of the two-time All-GLVC selection. “Claudia Ruehl is a fighter on the court, and a great tennis player. I really am impressed with her all-around ability, particularly her volleying.”

Senior Joceline McQueen posted an 8-1 GLVC record at No. 3 singles and is back this season, and junior Christina Dausch (5-0 GLVC at No. 6 singles) is another solid returning player.

“Joceline McQueen is playing very well, and she looks like the same player who was very dominating when she played at Sinclair Community College,” Horton said. “She is a very smart player, and I have been impressed with her play.

“Christina Dausch is very solid, and she has battled back from a lot of adversity. She feels as if this is the first year she has been totally ready to go physically, and she has a great deal of talent.”

NKU also adds freshman Elizabeth Brunsman, who could be a major factor this season. Brunsman was one of the top players in the city of Cincinnati last year at Oak Hills High School, and Horton is impressed by the freshman.

“Elizabeth Brunsman has the potential to be a star player, and we were very fortunate to get a player with her ability,” he said. “She can be an impact player from the start.”

Horton said NKU’s goals are simple: win the GLVC for the third straight year, show constant improvement - especially at doubles - and advance deeper into the NCAA Tournament.

“Our ultimate goal is to eventually win the national championship,” he said. “Very few people have the talent to accomplish that goal. I saw what it has done for our women’s basketball team here at NKU, and that has inspired me.”

NKU opens up the 2000 season Sept. 2-3 at the Eastern Illinois University Tournament.