Stephen Ronfeldt capped a brilliant tennis career in the spring of 1964 by winning 22 of 24 matches in singles, advancing as far as the quarterfinals of the NAIA national championships, where he competed for a third straight season. Ronfeldt and doubles partner Randy Jacobs also lost but two matches that season, capturing a Northwest Conference doubles title and then winning a second straight NAIA District I crown.
Ronfeldt came ever so close to advancing past the fourth round of the 1964 national tournament. He and Lornie Kuhle of Pan-American College (now the University of Texas-Pan American) were tied at one set apiece, with Ronfeldt serving with a 5-4 lead in the third set. Ronfeldt let a match point slip away, however, and Kuhle rallied for the victory.
In the 1963 NAIA tournament, Ronfeldt lost to Pan-Americanís Ken Lang, the eventual singles champion. In the tournamentís team scoring, Ronfeldt and four teammates (Jacobs, Jim Hite, Ron Witten and Tom McCoy) placed fifth.
Ronfeldt sparked Whitman to NWC team titles in each of his four seasons, winning the doubles championship as a freshman with Hite and as a sophomore with Witten. After missing the NAIA district tourney in 1961, Whitman dominated that competition over the next three seasons with Ronfeldt winning a trio of titles in singles.
As a freshman in the spring of 1961, Ronfeldt made an immediate impact as Whitman won its first NWC championship in three decades. The triumph snapped a string of five consecutive second-place finishes for Whitman.
Beginning late in his sophomore season, Ronfeldt led Whitman to 16 consecutive dual match victories that included a perfect 13-0 dual match season in 1963. At one point the Missionaries won 25 of 26 dual matches.
Ronfeldt, also a four-year letterman in basketball, won the 1964 Borleske Trophy, which is given annually to Whitmanís top male athlete. A 6-foot-2 forward on the menís basketball team, Ronfeldt scored a career-high 21 points in a game during his junior season. He averaged nearly eight points a game that season.
Ronfeldt, who served as president of the Associated Student Body at Whitman, earned his law degree at the University of California-Berkeley. He was awarded Whitmanís Alumnus of Merit in 1996 in tribute to his career as a legal aid advocate for the less fortunate and co-founder of the Berkeley Community Law Center.
Before coming to Whitman, Ronfeldt earned all-league honors in tennis and basketball at Claremont (Calif.) High School. He and Suzy Muldown, also a member of Whitmanís Class of 1964, were married in August 1965. The parents of three grown children, the Ronfeldts were living in Berkely, Calif., at the time of Stephenís induction in the Whitman Athletics Hall of Fame. He continues to play tennis, competing regularly in national tournaments, and holds a top 20 national ranking among players over 60 years of age.Back to main news release