Loyola tennis whiz still squeezes studies into whirlwind schedule

October 23, 1991|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Evening Sun Staff

Last Wednesday was a typically hectic day for Mia Vendlinski, a senior at Loyola College who more than fills the bill student-athlete.

She was out of bed at 5:45 a.m., and at basketball practice by 6:30. At 10 a.m., Vendlinski was taking in an English elective. She was excused from her 1 p.m. service marketing class, since Loyola had a 3 p.m. tennis match in Philadelphia against St. Joseph's. The Greyhounds' No. 1 player since 1989, Vendlinski improved her seasonal record to 19-4 and her doubles mark with Millie Johnson to 14-0.

"Getting up is the problem," Vendlinski said. "The alarm went off at 5:30, but I needed some nudging from one of my roommates [fellow basketball player Aileen Donovan]. Once I'm awake, I'm ready to go."

That's an understatement. A marketing major from Kennett Square, Pa., Vendlinski has been a two-sport standout since she came to Loyola, and a dean's list grade-point average of 3.7 last spring brought her cumulative GPA above 3.0.

Her current pace at Loyola is actually rather relaxing compared with how she spent this past summer.

"I was teaching tennis in the afternoons at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, and taking night courses here on Mondays and Wednesdays," Vendlinski said. "Midway through the summer, I took over a tennis program at a high school [near her home south of Philadelphia] that ran group lessons from 9 a.m. to noon."

Besides basketball and tennis, Vendlinski ran the 400 meters and high-jumped for the track and field team as a junior at Kennett Square High and was a pitcher in softball her three other years. The intramural softball leagues at Loyola are slo-pitch, so she plays outfield for The Right Stuff, champions in the spring of 1989 and '90.

"My father's trying to get me into golf, but I can't fit that in yet," Vendlinski said.

Her career tennis records at Loyola are 62-15 in singles, 52-8 in doubles. Vendlinski didn't come to coach Rick McClure as a polished player, but her tenacity and work habits made her the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion two weeks ago.

"Mia is not your basic country club kid with beautiful strokes," McClure said, "but she'll find a way to beat you. She's more an athlete than a tennis player, and she keeps plugging. In four years with us, she's never missed a practice or match.

"Mia's established guidelines for our other players, that you don't do things halfway. The program was stable when she came in, always above .500, but we're 50-5 [18-1 this fall, the only loss coming against Towson State] in her four years. You could say she's had a pretty big impact."

Loyola has one more tennis match this season, against Maryland tomorrow, and Vendlinski will then concentrate on basketball.

The scenario in recent seasons has seen coach Frank Szymanski trying some highly touted recruits in the preseason, and finally starting the 5-foot-9 Vendlinski on the wing some time in early January. She started the last 12 games of her sophomore season, and the final 11 in 1990-91, when she made a third of the Greyhounds' three-pointers and her 9.7 scoring average was second-best on the team.

"I've experimented with younger players, knowing in the long run I would go back to Mia," Szymanski said.

Vendlinski enters the 1991-92 season, which begins Nov. 22-23 in the Big Four Classic at Towson State, with 626 career points, and she has a chance to become the eighth 1,000-point scorer in Loyola history. After that, she's trying to line up an internship with a local firm for next spring, but she's also considering combining graduate work and coaching.

"She's a big influence on our freshmen," Szymanski said. "Mia has the makeup to get into coaching. She could also be president of AT&T."

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