Same name; new face for tennis squad

One thing is for certain when the Northern Illinois University women’s team takes the court in 1993-94: The Huskie players won’t have to learn a new coach’s name.

That’s because the new NIU leader is Patti Henderson, who has served as coach of the Canadian National Team since September 1991. Her appointment is subject to approval by the school’s Board of Regents.

Henderson replaces Patty Groth-Newbrough, who resigned at the conclusion of the spring season for personal reasons. Groth-Newbrough’s nine-year ledger included a 125-99 (.558) dual-meet record and four consecutive titles.

The new “Patti” also anticipates no change for the Huskies’ winning habits.

“I came to the conclusion that college coaching was what I enjoyed the most, but I was picky about my return. I wouldn’t have accepted the position if I didn’t believe Northern Illinois can develop into a solid, national program,” Henderson insisted.

“In Patti Henderson, we found the right person to take a solid program to the next step and on up the ladder,” explained associate athletic director Robert Collins, who headed up the search committee. “Her resume as a player is complete: there’s NCAA success and international success. And her background as a coach is the same. At Florida State she put together a conference champion.”

For Henderson, the move also represents a return to the U.S. Before her tenure with the Canadian National Team, Henderson served as head women’s tennis coach at Florida State University for four seasons (1987-1991).

In that span, she captured a pair of Metro Conference championships, two runner-up finishes and conference Coach of the Year accolades in 1989 and 1991. The Seminoles compiled a 51-44 ledger under Henderson.

The 30-year-old began her coaching career with the Ontario Tennis Team which took silver medal honors at the August 1985 Canada Games.

“I’m looking for the person that hasn’t reached her full potential as a player. Effort and desire is what I look for first, as opposed to pro aspirations. We’ll look wherever we need to, but the Midwest and Western sections of the USTA (United States Tennis Association) are solid bases. We won’t overlook our backyard,” Henderson added.

Her international experience includes two seasons as player-coach with the Rheinland Tennis Club in Lahnstein, Germany. She also has been Head Professional at Markham City (Ontario) Tennis Club and the co-owner of the Barron/Henderson Seminole Tennis organization.

Henderson earned her bachelor of science degree in physical education from Florida State in December 1986. When a collegian, she was a four-year letter-winner on FSU’s tennis team, and garnered Metro Conference Most Valuable Player honors in 1985-86. She reached as high as 45th in singles and 12th in doubles in the ITCA/NCAA Division I Volvo rankings during her senior season, and qualified for the NCAA doubles championship tournament in both 1985 and 1986.

For her efforts, she was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1992.