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WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Heidi Tate, a player and then a coach at Montana State University for eight seasons, moved west in the fall of 2000 to replace long-time Whitman College women's tennis coach Jayne McCarthy.
Whitman considers itself fortunate, notes athletic director Travis Feezell, to have found a new coach with the personality and communication skills it takes to establish immediate and lasting rapport with student athletes.
"Heidi knows the game well and is a wonderful coach," Feezell says. "We are fortunate to have someone of our her calibre. What makes her exceptional, though, is her ability to communicate with her players. She is one of those coaches that young people want to play for. She is one of those coaches that players remember for the rest of their lives and continue to contact. It is that quality, her dynamic personality, that makes Heidi a great fit for Whitman. She's going to be extremely successful here."
Jeff Northam, director of tennis at Whitman and the Missionary men's coach, helped recruit Tate to campus, knowing full well the type of young coach he was getting. Tate began her Montana State coaching career as an assistant to Northam during the 1996-97 academic year, his last season there before he returned to Whitman, his alma mater.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to continue the success the Whitman women's program enjoyed under Jayne McCarthy," Tate said. "Whitman is an incredible school academically, and its tennis center is just as incredible. I want to help take the women's tennis program to the next level of excellence."
After Northam left his Montana State coaching position in 1997, Tate coached the Bobcat women's team for the next two seasons. Her teams finished near the top of the Big Sky Conference both years, placing second in 1998 and third in 1999. In her last season (1999-2000) at the Bozeman campus, she coached both the women's and men's teams, and led the men's squad to its first-ever conference title.
While at Montana State, an NCAA Div. I school, Tate also facilitated a fund-raising effort that led to construction of the Bobcat Tennis Center, a four-court facility covered by a canvas and polymer dome inflated to a height of 38.5 feet.
As a player at Montana State, where she graduated in 1996 with a degree in health education, Tate amassed 100 career wins in singles and doubles. She played No. 1 and No. 2 singles as a junior and senior, after winning the Big Sky Conference title at No. 6 singles as a freshman. She competed in No. 1 doubles in each of her four seasons.
As a junior and senior, Tate helped the Bobcat women's team place third in the Big Sky championships.
Tate began playing competitive tennis in the eighth grade and immediately moved into the No. 1 singles spot as a freshman at Bainbridge, Wash., High School. After placing sixth in the Class AA state championships in her first season, she finished third at state as a sophomore. She placed fifth in the state championships as both a junior and senior.