MIDDLEBURY — The newest coach of the Middlebury Union High School girls’ tennis team — and at MUHS — certainly doesn’t lack for qualifications for her latest challenge.
Cornwall’s Laura Rumbough captained the Middlebury College women’s tennis team back in the fall of 1981. After graduating from Middlebury, she has been regularly instructing the sport at clubs and camps, many in Rowatyn, Conn., and in nearby New York.
“I’ve been a teaching pro since college,” said Rumbough, who moved back from Connecticut to Vermont in late 2009 with her husband, Doug, and two children — one of whom, Anna, is a junior on the Tiger tennis team. Her older brother attends college.
She said the family moved for a different lifestyle, and has not regretted the change.
“We absolutely love it. I love the small town feel,” Rumbough said.
Her coaching experience is not limited to individual and group tennis instruction, either. She helped coach her daughter’s middle school and youth sports teams, and assisted the MUHS girls’ tennis team a year ago, spending time mostly with the more experienced players.
“I love working with kids, and the high-school-age group. I think it’s wonderful,” Rumbough said.
Her career also revolves around helping kids. As a consultant for the company Tips on Trips and Camps, her work involves finding summer opportunities — camps, travel opportunities, service programs and more — for youths.
“It’s anything and everything you can imagine,” Rumbough said. “We have programs as far away as China.”
Rumbough replaces Sarah Harrison Lynn, who helped restore the Tiger girls’ program to varsity status in 2003 and led the team to a number of successful seasons.
Rumbough said Lynn told her she was happy Rumbough was there to step in after Lynn’s eight-year varsity tenure.
“Sarah was ready to find someone else to take over the reins,” she said. “We miss her, definitely.”
Rumbough does plan a few changes, including instituting a regular system of matches to determine positions on the singles’ playing ladder.
“Girls are very shy about challenges ... So I plan to set up challenges,” she said.
The program numbers are still reasonable, 13 for a team that starts five singles and four doubles players, but Rumbough — who intends to be on the job for the long haul — wants to work to boost the count.
“I have to start recruiting,” she said. “I have to start boosting the team and start getting some interest in the younger players.”
This year’s team was scheduled to host a match on Thursday, but the weather does not look promising, and the Tigers might be looking instead at an opening match at Stowe on Saturday.
Regardless, Rumbough said the Tigers have worked hard this spring, especially considering they have had to get up for 6:15 a.m. practices at Middlebury Indoor Tennis.
“They’re a great group of girls, and I’m impressed,” she said. “Everybody’s improving.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.