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Koehler takes helm of WDC girls' tennis team

The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines will have a veteran tennis player at the helm this fall.

Neil Koehler played his high school tennis at New York Mills and made trips to state as a singles player in his junior and senior years.

Four years at St. John's University in Collegeville came next and Koehler had a chance to test himself against the best in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference -- including Division III powerhouse Gustavus Adolphus.

Koehler has a down-to-earth but enthusiastic approach to the game. He has gained coaching experience over the last two years by assisting his former prep coach, Gary Bach, with his girls' tennis program at Mills. The Eagles and the Wolverines will be facing each other during the regular season and Koehler is looking forward to the challenge.

"It's really a mental sport," Koehler said, in summing up his approach to the game. "So much of it is determined by your attitude and your outlook. That's what I found personally and from watching other people."

Koehler will go into the season without the leadership and court skills of all-conference star Katie Anderson but he believes he has a good handle on the team he will be coaching this fall with the help of assistant Vicki Smith. Koehler gave tennis lessons in Wadena this summer and got to know some of his WDC players.

"The girls' team has been strong," Koehler said. "They definitely had a couple of good individuals. We'd like to build on what they did last year and take it to the next level."

Koehler is a certified trainer who works at Snap Fitness in Wadena. He also holds degrees in English and biology.