In his first year, Mike Bonnell looks to change the culture of BGSU Tennis

Kalen Lumpkins

Kalen Lumpkins, Sports Reporter, Falcon Media Sports Network

On August 22, 2022, BGSU announced the hiring of Mike Bonnell as the new head tennis coach. He comes to Bowling Green after a six-year tenure at Ohio Northern University as the men’s head coach.  

At ONU, he led the men’s team to the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) regular season and tournament titles in 2022, as well as a 73-41 record during his tenure. He was also named the OAC coach of the year on May 19, 2022.  

Bonnell described some of the reasons why he wanted to leave ONU to start a new chapter at Bowling Green. 

“Division I has always been a goal of mine, and scholarship athletes,” Bonnell said. “I’ve always said that if I could get close to eight full rides, I can take over the world. I just want to test myself and find the highest level of athletes we can. [I want to] be able to go after them and have a reasonable chance of getting them here.”  

After coaching the ONU Polar Bears for six years, along with graduating from the university, Bonnell explained how his team has helped him adjust to life at Bowling Green.  

“The girls on the team have made it really easy,” Bonnell said. ”They are definitely dedicated to their craft, and they want to be out here and work. They take their academics very seriously, just like Ohio Northern and other schools I’ve coached in the past. They come to practice ready to go, and they understand the importance of it.”  

Before he was the ONU coach, he was a doubles player at his alma mater. He posted a 40-7 career record and ranked as high as ninth in the nation.  

Bonnell says understanding the mentality of a player makes him a better person as well as a coach.  

“I’ve been a tennis player since high school and I have seen all levels of players and being on the court competing, you know the pressures these athletes are under, and you can relate,” Bonnell said. 

The BGSU tennis team has a vast diverse representation, with players from France (Lucy Furness), Brazil (Leticia Fonseca) and others places overseas. 

With that, Bonnell says that it does not matter what you look like if you want to be a tennis player. 

“I don’t care if they’re from the moon, if they have the right heart and soul then we want them on the team.”  

 With tennis being such a global popularity, Bonnell says the stars have always influenced him as well as his players.

“Serena Williams and Roger Federer have had a big influence on the game,” Bonnell said. “The better players tend to influence the kids coming up. It’s great to emulate players like that but you have to be able to do what you can do as well.”  

Finally, Bonnell expressed his gratitude toward his BGSU future.  

“I’m super excited to be here,” Bonnell said. “It’s fun to take a program to where it is and help it get to where it’s going to be. I think it’s an honor to be selected for the job… it’s going to be a fun story to turn this thing around.”  

BGSU Tennis continues with their season on Saturday, Feb. 25 in Dayton against Northern Michigan. 

For more information about the team, visit the athletics webpage.