March 23, 2012
Rosewell achieves 900 wins, but legacy extends past tennis
Updated April 2, 2012
By David Boyce
Anybody who knows Northwest Missouri State’s longtime men’s and women’s tennis coach Mark Rosewell has an amusing story about him going to an athletic event.
Rosewell loves all sports and his passion for Bearcat athletics is legendary.
Northwest men’s and women’s basketball team could be playing in Joplin, Mo., in the middle of winter and it would be more surprising if Rosewell was not in attendance.
“I really do try and I always have,” Rosewell said. “I really enjoy athletics and just everything about it. I think it is great. Another thing is we got a great school here at Northwest not only athletically, but academically and everything else. It is a great place.”
Bearcat green runs so deeply in Rosewell that it is hard to believe he was once associated with another MIAA school.
Rosewell graduated from Central Missouri and spent his first two years as a tennis coach at the school formerly known as CMSU. That was 30 years ago.
For the last 28 seasons, Rosewell has guided Northwest men’s and women’s tennis teams to the top or near the top of the MIAA on a yearly basis.On March 31, the Bearcats claimed a 5-0 win over Newman and a 5-0 win from Dallas Baptist, propelling Rosewell to career win 900. The wins finished a solid weekend for the Bearcats, improving their regular season mark to 12-3. Northwest also ran its winning streak to four matches sweeping all three matches in Tulsa.
“It does mean a lot,” Rosewell said, “because we’ve always played tough schedules. For years, we would win two for every loss. That’s pretty good.
“The main thing is my teams are kind of like my family. We have gotten pretty close to them. It really helps me keep young.”
The way the men’s and women’s team are playing helped Rosewell reach the milestone before the calendar flipped to April.
“We just call him coach,” senior Calvin Patterson said. “He will be close to a 1,000 by the time he’s done.
Ericka Leston, a senior on the women’s team, has progressed from the No. 5 singles player as a freshman to No. 1 singles player last year and this season because of the guidance of Rosewell.
“He is a tough coach in a good way,” she said. “He wants the best for us. His personality helps the team a lot. He makes us go and fight and be a Bearcat. I hope he continues. He’s been coaching all these years for a reason.”
A perfect example of Rosewell’s competitive spirit is this year men’s team. Last year Northwest men won the MIAA Tournament, but lost five of its top six players. Patterson was the lone returner.
It would have been perfectly acceptable to deem this season as rebuilding. Rebuilding, though, is not in Rosewell’s make-up.
“He brought in a couple of junior college players and a Division I transfer and one freshman,” Patterson said. “For the most part these guys are experienced in college tennis. We got a good mix of one senior, one freshman and a bunch of guys in the middle.
“We’ve bonded well as a team. We found out what works in a doubles lineup and a singles lineup. The guys came in here knowing it is a completely new team and they want to replicate and do better than we did last year.”
Leston is optimistic about the women’s team as the team approaches the conference tournament.
“The team so far is pretty good,” Leston said. “We have been working hard. It is still early in the season. We’ve played tough teams from Oklahoma and Texas.”
Because of the loyalty Rosewell shows to others, he gets it back in return.
When the Bearcats were in Durant, Okla., taking on Southeastern Oklahoma March 18, the Bearcats saw a former Northwest coach, who now lives in Texas, in the stands watching.
“I saw this guy walking around with a green hat and green T-shirt,” Patterson said. “I said, hey, that looks like Coach T. I find out after the match that it was him. It was good to see that support.”
Hall of Fame football coach Mel Tjeerdsma took time out of his day to support the Northwest tennis teams. Moments like that make it all worthwhile for Rosewell.
“It was really great catching up,” Rosewell said. “Since he has left I really haven’t spoken with him that much. It was good memories.”
Northwest tennis players are accustomed to seeing former Bearcats in the stands when they play on the road.
“Funny thing is we go to some pretty far places and we usually get some random Bearcat support, former Northwest players or students,” Patterson said. “It is pretty cool to see such a wide network of Bearcat fans.”
Rosewell gets that loyalty because of the way he treats his players.
“I want them to have a good experience,” Rosewell said. “I want them to have fun and yet improve as tennis players. That is usually the process.”
All you have to do is go to the MIAA Tournament and see how Northwest players from different countries around the world are pulling for each other, having a good time and trying to capture a conference title.
“Tennis is such an international game,” Patterson said. “You have to get players all-around the world to be successful. The thing that has made our program so successful was he was one of the pioneers in this. He was one of the first coaches to realize this. The best talent is not just in America, but all around the world. He was the first to bring in guys from overseas.
“He loves all sports. Deep down inside he loves tennis. He loves watching tennis. If it were up to him, we would play a match every day. He loves competing and just watching us play. We work for him.
“He has a passion for the game you don’t see often.”
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