Preseason injury serves as motivation

Even before the first match of the spring season, Missouri Southern’s women’s tennis team is playing catch-up.

According to the Mid- America Intercollegiate Athletic Association rules, a tennis team must have six active members to compete, and the Lions are now one player short.

Kristen Bodine, one of two freshmen on this year’s team has not been able to practice due to a back injury. However, per Southern’s rules, the team must continue to compete to be considered a University sport. Instead of forfeiting, the Lions must start each match two points down.

Instead of using the injury as an excuse to give up, the team is using it as motivation to work even harder to prepare for their season opening match March 2 in Tahlequah, Okla. Head Coach Della Hagedorn is optimistic about Bodine’s return and believes she will make a full recovery in time to compete.

“Having the minimum number of players puts the team on edge to begin with,” she said. “I’m always telling the girls to stay healthy and be extra careful. We are always looking for more girls who are interested in playing in case something like this happens.”

Meanwhile, the other members of the team continue to practice five to six days a week at the Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club.

“The tennis courts on campus just really need to be resurfaced,” Hagadorn said. “We’re fortunate enough to have an alternative place to practice.”

The team has been overwhelmed by the amount of support they have received from the tennis community.

“We have six or seven men from the club, who on a regular basis, come and run drills with us,” Hagedorn said. “They’ve really taken an interest in the girls this year.”

In addition to the members of the club, Ken Goodall, a well-known coach comes twice a week from Springfield.

“Ken talks to us about our strategy and ways to better improve our game” Bodine said. “He helps us tighten things up like our footwork or the way we toss the ball when we’re serving.”

Hagedorn said the team is self-motivated this season.

“They come an hour early to hit balls and stay an hour late to practice footwork and drills” she said. “They’ve even asked if we can do two-a-days.

“We are excited to have two great freshmen on the team this year. Our strength is really going to be doubles. We are working hard to make sure we are improving from match to match.”

“It’s a whole new level of competition in college,” Bodine said. “The ball comes over the net a lot faster and a lot harder.”

The women’s tennis team is also the first to be coached by a husband- wife duo. This is the Hagedorns’ first season as coaches of the tennis team.

“We were both state champion athletes in high school,” Della Hagedorn said. “Dave was involved in wrestling and I ran track.”

After receiving a scholarship, Dave continued his wrestling career at Utah State University, while Della attended Brigham Young University on a volleyball scholarship, however neither one started playing tennis until three years ago.

“Dave and my games really complement each other,” Della Hagedorn said. “His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. This is a learning experience for us too, but we love it.”

The Hagedorns try to play together as often as they can, but traveling and the responsibilities they have as coaches often limits that time. In addition to their team at school they have another team on the home front. The Hagedorns have six children ages 14 to 21.

The Lions’ first home match of the season won’t be until March 14, when the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats will visit Southern.

For rosters and a schedule of the upcoming season please go to