The San Luis Obispo High girls tennis team lost one longtime local fixture in January, when 17-year coach Gary Etheredge retired.
The Tigers picked up another Wednesday, when athletic director Jeff Brandow announced the school hired former Nipomo coach Rosemarie Will.
Will coached the Titans from their inception in 2002 until her family moved to San Luis Obispo in 2008 and has been grooming young tennis talent in San Luis Obispo County since 1987.
She was a volunteer assistant under Etheredge for four seasons — 2008-11 — as her daughters, Elizabeth and Abigail, and late son, Matthew, competed for the Tigers.
“I feel like I’m the natural person to,” take over for Etheredge, Rosemarie Will said. “I was at every practice during those four years helping the girls and coaching during matches.”
Will said parents of current players urged her to apply for the job before she even knew it was available.
“I am very excited,” she said. “I knew when we moved to San Luis Obispo that this was what I wanted to do.”
Will played for American River Junior College and Saint Mary’s, and was a member of the Central Coast Women’s Tennis League for 25 years.
She taught lessons for the Nipomo Recreation Department for three years before becoming the first girls tennis coach at Nipomo High.
Now she takes over a program that went to the CIF-Southern Section finals in 2009 and stands as the biggest challenge to Arroyo Grande, which has won the past four PAC 7 titles and last year’s section championship.
“When I coached at Nipomo, there were 25 girls who came out for the team and I asked anyone who had played tennis before to raise their hand,” Will said. “Two girls raised their hand. At San Luis Obispo, there will be 30 or 40 girls trying out for the team and every single one of them will have played.
“It’s a completely different world.”
Will said more than just the coach makes that possible.
“Tennis is huge here on the Central Coast,” she said. “The San Luis Obispo Country Club has a full, huge junior program, and having that here helps fuel our teams. I’d like to say it’s all coaching, but it’s the entire community that loves tennis.”