Bill Hehli begins his 22nd year as head coach of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse men’s and women’s tennis teams in 2016-17. He also serves as assistant media relations director.
His familiarity with the tennis program made him a logical choice as head coach. Hehli was a standout player at UWL from 1991-94 before serving as the assistant coach in 1995. During his playing career he received All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) honors a combined six times, qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament in 1991 and was a nationally ranked player at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III level in 1993-94.
In 21 years as the men’s coach, Hehli has led the team to an NCAA III Midwest regional ranking numerous times. Several players have been individually ranked in the Midwest under Hehli, and he has coached NCAA All-Americas. He has led the Eagles to two Northern Collegiate Tennis Association (NCTA) Tournament titles.
UWL finished 21-3 in 2015, setting a single-season school record for victories. The Eagles had an 18-match winning streak during the season while finishing 13th in the 2015 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Central Region rankings.
The Eagles recorded a then school record 18 victories in 2010 (18-6), 2011 (18-7) and 2013 (18-7). The team finished 16-6 in 2014.
In his 21 seasons with the women, the Eagles have had a winning record every year, been ranked in the NCAA III Midwest Region the past 18 years, and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament Second Round in 2007. UWL finished 18th in the nation in 2001. Several players have been individually ranked in the Midwest and nationally during his tenure.
UWL finished 20-2 in 2015-16 while finishing 15th in the ITA Central Region rankings. The Eagles recorded a 19-match winning streak during the 2015-16 campaign. Bridget Bellissimo was 10th in the final 2016 ITA Central Region rankings while Belissimo and Kimmy Mrozek were seventh in doubles.
UWL captured the 2003, 2005 and 2006 WIAC Women's Championship under Hehli. He has been named the WIAC Coach of the Year three times (2001, 2005, 2012).
The Eagles set a single-season school record for dual wins in 2010-11 and 2011-12, finishing 21-5 each year.
UWL went 19-5 in 2014-15 while finishing 17th in the ITA Central Region rankings. Bellissimo was 11th in the ITA Central Region rankings and 50th nationally. Bellissimo and Mrozek finished eighth in the ITA Central Region doubles rankings.
Hehli has compiled a career duals record of 605-269 (.692) at UWL, including 325-105 (.756) with the women's team and 280-164 (.631) with the men's squad. He earned his 600th career victory in the Eagles' 9-0 women's victory over Simpson College (Iowa) April 10, 2016.
Hehli earned his 500th career dual victory in the women's 5-1 win over UW-Oshkosh April 27, 2013. He picked up his 300th win as the women's head coach after the Eagles' 9-0 victory over The State University of New York-New Paltz March 16, 2015.
Hehli believes one of his best coaching assets is his ability to relate to the student-athletes. “I've been in many of the same situations as a player and a student, and because of that, have been able to effectively help my student athletes do well here. We want players to have an overall experience that they will never forget. It's my job to make sure that happens.”
“The best part of being a coach is seeing the student athletes succeed, and knowing that I was a part of that success," says Hehli. “The best way to help someone succeed is to get to know them well enough to push the right motivational buttons for that individual. If I can help the individual player succeed, it not only helps them, but helps our team be successful.”
“My coaching style is not clearly set in any one category. I adapt the way I deal with student athletes to the student athletes themselves. Some need to constantly be pushed to achieve, others need nothing more than a pat on the back. I’m here to help the student-athlete, in whatever way I can. My only requirement is that everyone work as hard as they can to succeed, and I think if that is the case, the results take care of themselves.”
Coach Mirasola begins his first season coaching the UWL tennis team. He was a standout player for the Eagles from 2009-2013, and was the head boy's tennis coach at Winona Cotter High School (Minn.) the last three years.