Suzanne Kuhlman finished Georgetown's tennis season undefeated and, according to her coach, is the best women's tennis player in the school's history."
But ask Kuhlman if she has any desire to play professionally and she emphatically says, "No way."
I think, I'm going to play the best tennis I can in college," says Kuhlman, a freshman from Fort Mitchell, Ky., "and then pursue a career."
On a scholarship, Kuhlman was the No. 1 singles player on the Hoya team and won all 16 of her matches. She also catureed the EAIAW Division II Eastern championship and qualified for the national tournament (in Los Angeles June 11-14) in addition to helping her team qualitfy for the nationals for the first time.
Kuhlman is following in the footsteps of a sister, Julie, who also attended Georgetown on a tennis scholarship and now is a nurse at GW. Kuhlman, who will be 19 in two weeks, has her sights set on being an engineer. "That's why I am studying math and science."
At home in Kentucky, practicing three hours a day for the nationals, Kuhlman is never at a loss for a partner. Her two younger brothers or two younger sisters are more than willing to oblige. They need the court time too because they all play in age-group tournaments. And if the four younger Kihlmans are busy, Kuhlman can always call on the seven older brothers and sisters, all of whom play tennis.
Kuhlman says her chances of winning at the nationals are okay, although California and Florida schools have the best players. "They have more time to practice in the warm weather."
Kuhlman took up tennis 10 years ago and said she chose Georgetown not just for the scholarship (she had offers from William and Mary and the University of Kentucky). "Hardly anything was based on tennis," she said. "I was concerned mostly with the education and the atmosphere. Tennis didn't come first."
The offer from Georgetown came after Kuhlman was runner-up in the Kentucky state high school championships, and received the 67th national ranking in the 18-and-under category.
The thought of a career in tennis has occurred to Kuhlman but she's not really interested. "I would worry about wasting my time if I didn't make it." she said.
Her coach, Sue Liebenow, said, "I admire her convctions in engineering. I think she has things in perspective in her own way. She could make it in tennis on a certain level, like the futures circuit, which they used to have. I think it would depend on how much she wanted it."
In mid-June, Kuhlman will begin a summber job in Cincinnati, teaching tennis at a day camp. It helps to have the extra pocket money during the school year so she and her roommate, ace Hoya cross-country runner Pia Palladino, can go out for their frequent midnight snacks.
In September she will return to the daily grind of classes and tennis practice at Georgetown.
Unlike most athletes on scholarship, Kuhlman said, "I like having school. Tennis is not the most important thing to me. I'm going to school to learn. To have my life revolve around tennis . . . that would defeat the purpose.