By Morgan Caldwell/Sports writer
It takes a lot of responsibility to coach a team at the college level, as well as a lot of time and dedication. Rob Oertel has all of the above times two. He not only coaches the men’s tennis team, but the women’s team as well.Oertel was born and raised in West Allis, Wis., near Milwaukee. He played four years of college tennis for the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and completed his masters in physical education with an emphasis in sports administration.
Oertel’s career in tennis has been successful, but unusual. “The neighborhood I grew up in was a middle-class neighborhood; it wasn’t a country club setting…My dad was a factory worker. He didn’t have the income to be sending me to country clubs for lessons,” Oertel explained. He consequently got a late start in the sport.
Once Oertel got to college, he knew he wanted to play something, but tennis wasn’t his first choice.
“I wanted to try out for basketball,” he said. “It was my favorite sport, but I probably wasn’t good enough to play college basketball. [It] was my first love.”
However, he knew tennis was his best sport. Oertel proved just how driven he was to succeed by the decision he made next.
“I sunk my soul in tennis for four years. Success is really important to me. Success was more important to me than just being an average basketball player,” Oertel said.
Oertel didn’t make time for much else in college beyond tennis and socializing with friends. “I really spent a lot of time playing tennis. I didn’t have a lot of other priorities in college,” he said. “I stayed away from the party scene.”
After college, Oertel began his career as head coach at the college level at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Next, he spent seven years at Indiana State and four and a half at the University of Denver. He said due to the weather and the mountains, he really enjoyed his time in Denver. “Denver is probably the best city I’ve lived in. It’s sunny over 300 days a year.”
After coaching at Denver University, Oertel made his way to Eastern, where he’s coached for the last year and a half. With two teams under his tutelage, Oertel stays pretty busy. He does find time for recreation though.
“Golf is my favorite pastime…and I love traveling and music,” Oertel said.
His music interest generally leans toward hard rock.
Even after only a year and a half at Eastern, Oertel says he’s “really happy with the progress of the program.” He has high expectations for both teams. “I’d like to make it a nationally respected program,” he explained.
Oertel is taking things one step at a time though. “Usually I’ve got a five-year plan.” He did not expect the teams to have a shot at making it to the top half of the conference so quickly. “I’d be lying if I said I [thought that],” he stated. “We’re ahead of schedule.”