1986 Women's Tennis Team


This special group not only became the first tennis team in school history to win an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) championship, but is the first female program across any sport to win a league title for Otterbein.

Led by Hall of Fame coach Dr. Joanne Tyler, the Cardinals played to a 9-2 regular-season record and went a perfect 7-0 within conference play. The group got off to a quick 5-0 start and eventually entered the OAC Championships as the team to beat, with Tyler confidently saying “We’re going to win it” as the event neared.

Otterbein ultimately edged defending-champion Wittenberg in a very close affair, rallying back in the closing moments to pull out a 117-113 victory. The squad had finished second to Wittenberg the year prior.

Highlighting the effort were victories in the No. 1 and 2 double flights and also in third and fourth singles. Freshman Regina Splees, Otterbein’s “Most Improved Player” that spring, and team MVP Nita Huggins brought home singles championship to keep the Cards within one point of the Tigers heading into doubles action.

Junior Erin Tschanen and sophomore Chi Martelino, the team’s No. 1 and 2 singles players, respectively, quickly defeated an Ohio Northern tandem to capture the title in first doubles. The Cardinals, now holding a 112-08 lead, clinched the championship when Splees and Huggins followed in short order to defeat their Wittenberg counterparts and give Otterbein and unbeatable lead.

Other players contributing to the memorable run were Lynn Ellen Peterson, Amy Weiskircher and Ronda Gearhart. The entire group, possessing unified team strength and a will to win, goes down as one of the most notable teams to ever compete at Otterbein.