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Former player back to help coach tennis

A former Falcon tennis star has joined the team as an assistant coach this season.

‘I am very excited to have Cindy [Yonker] join the BGSU tennis staff,’ said head coach Penny Dean. ‘She has a wealth of knowledge and experience and will hit the court running.’

Yonker – who went by Cindy Mikolajewski when she was a player – played for BG from 1993 to 1997 before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business education. Earning Mid-American Conference honors all four years, Yonker was an All-MAC First Team pick her final two years with the Falcons.

‘It has been a lot of fun [being back at BG],’ Yonker said. ‘I never thought I would look so forward to going to work. I think playing is less stressful than coaching. I would rather be playing, but this is the next best thing.’

‘Being back on campus is exciting; it is a fun atmosphere to be in and a part of.’

Her freshman year, the Perrysburg native tied the University record with 23 singles wins and took second place at that year’s MAC Championships at the third flight. The following season, Yonker was awarded the MAC Leann Grimes Davidge Sportsmanship Award.

As a senior, Yonker carded the second-highest single-season victory total in school history at the time with 43 wins. She was also voted team captain, was awarded all-league honors and was named to the Academic All-MAC Team.

At the end of her senior season, Yonker was the winningest player in school history with 143 career wins and was tied for second in singles (75) and doubles wins (68). To this day, Yonker still ranks fifth in overall wins and is tied for seventh in singles wins and ninth in doubles.

Yonker says that some of her favorite memories of BG were the ones spent with her teammates.

‘There are so many great memories that have come back to me since I’ve been back,’ Yonker said. ‘Girls on the team remind me of girls I played with. Other than the friendships that were made, I would say [my favorite memories] were the van rides. I don’t think I did at the time, but in retrospect, the girl talk and bonding was fun.’

The former Falcon spent four years (2000-2003) as head coach at Webster University in St. Louis. Yonker was named the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in both her first and final years at WU. Yonker led the Gorloks to one third-place finish and three second-place finishes during her time in the eight-team conference.

After coaching Yonker for four years, Dean is excited to coach alongside her former player.

‘Cindy will be a great addition to the coaching staff,’ Dean said. ‘I know we are on the same page since she played for me.’

And Yonker is happy to be back at BG working with Dean.

‘We have been collaborating on different ways to run practice and various team aspects,’ Yonker said. ‘Two heads are always better than one.’

Since she left BG, Yonker has gotten married to former BG men’s tennis player Bob Yonker and has had three children.

‘Penny has always been a great friend,’ Yonker said. ‘We spoke a couple of years ago about me helping her out and then I found out a week later I was pregnant. Now that my children are a little older, working with Penny at BG allows me to be at home after school for my older children and not have my youngest with the babysitter too long.’

Now that she’s back at BG, Yonker is looking forward to helping the women on and off the court.

‘I would love to help the girls improve our position in the MAC,’ Yonker said. ‘This includes helping them all become court players.’

With Dean’s coaching background and Yonker’s energy and passion for the sport, the women expect to have a very successful year.

‘Hopefully, I can provide some fresh ideas and [Dean] can provide the experience,’ Yonker said.’

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