By Ryan Kaczmarski
On Sept. 19, it was announced that Bay Village native and Magnificat graduate Kirsten Gambrell has been hired as an assistant tennis coach at Case Western Reserve University.
Gambrell replaces Mariana Cobra, who was named head coach at Northern Iowa University, and will assist with both the men’s and women’s squads.
“I am very excited to be back home, after being away for a while,” Gambrell said. “It is very nice, and Case is a great school.”
A former NCAA Division I standout at DePaul University (Illinois), she joins the staff at CRWU following a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga.
“I am very pleased that Kirsten is joining our staff, as she truly resembles a lot of what has made our program successful during the last four years,” Spartans men’s and women’s tennis head coach Todd Wojtkowski said in a press release. “She has experience coaching at the Division III level, and she is very connected in the Cleveland area through her many instructing roles.
“She has also played at the highest national level and will be very familiar with the recruiting trails.”
In her time playing at Magnificat (class of 2006), Gambrel was a sectional singles champion as a freshman; a sectional doubles champion and state qualifier – along with partner Kristen McPhillips – as a sophomore; a district singles runner-up and state qualifier as a junior; and a district and state qualifier as a senior.
“I think the biggest thing Magnificat did for me was to prepare me academically,” Gambrell said. “To be able to go to DePaul and have a double major, then go on and get my MBA, I feel that (the curriculum) at Mags got me prepared for that.”
At DePaul, she was a four-time Big East Conference Academic All-Star from 2007-10 and was a key member of a Blue Demon squad that reached the NCAA Division I championship tournament in 2010. In addition, she advanced to the championship match of the 2008 Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Doubles Tournament.
Along with her playing experience, Gambrell brings a multitude of instructing experience to CWRU. She serves as an all-age instructor at the North Olmsted Recreation Complex, the Avon Oaks Country Club and the Bay Village Recreation Department.
“Bay and Avon Oaks, I will (still) serve in the summertime,” she said. “In North Olmsted, I’ll be there very minimally, but I’ll still be there.”
As for the local youth she has instructed, she sees some possible rising stars from the area.
“I could definitely see some good college players,” Gambrell said. “Past that, it’s hard to tell.
“I see tennis growing so much on the West Side (of Cleveland),” she added. “Our classes are huge and overbooked, so that is a good problem to have.”
Prior to her time at Berry, she served in various instructing roles with the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Department in Georgia and the Lakeside Athletic Club in Chicago.
Gambrell earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education from DePaul in 2010, and recently earned a Master of Business Administration from Berry in 2012.