TROY — It’s been a labor of love.
For the past four decades, Margaret Ruemenapp has been involved in tennis as either a player, coach, professional instructor or administrator.
The former Harbor Springs and Petoskey High School tennis coach can also add another moniker next to her name.
Hall of Famer.
Ruemenapp was inducted along with Port Huron Northern’s Mary Kay Baribeau and Dearborn Heights Robichaud’s Jim Hadley into the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association Hall of Fame last month at the Troy Marriott.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Ruemenapp said. “I’ve coached 21 seasons of girls and two of boys and some with JV. I’ve worked with a lot of those (MHSTeCA) coaches for some time and although I couldn’t get there (to the induction), they had a nice video and Joe Gentle (MHSTeCA president) talked nicely about me.”
Recovering from heart surgery, Ruemenapp was unable to attend the induction ceremony. Her family made a video acceptance on her behalf and longtime assistant John Penfold was at the dinner and accepted her plaque.
It’s been a lifetime of tennis for Ruemenapp, who is arguably the heart and soul of Northern Michigan Tennis.
A solid player herself her entire life, Ruemenapp was the head tennis professional at the Grand Traverse Hilton (now the Grand Traverse Resort) from 1980-81 and coached the Traverse City Central girls team to its first league title in the Mona Shores Conference during that time.
Ruemenapp then developed and administered the Area Training Center for the district ranked players in Northern Michigan and was founder of the North Country Junior Development Program and worked with it for 10 years before taking over the Petoskey High School girls’ tennis team. She was also the director of tennis and head professional at the Little Traverse Racquet Club from 1981-2002.
“It was my good fortune to work with Margaret for a year at the Little Traverse Racquet Club,” Hall of Famer Chuck Wright of Grosse Pointe University Liggett said in the MHSTeCA Hall of Fame program. “She taught me more about being a good instructor, especially with group clinics, in that year than I have ever learned in my tennis career.”
After taking over for another Hall of Fame coach, Karen Langs, in 2003 at Petoskey High School, Ruemenapp guided the Northmen girls team to state tournament appearances in five out of eight years while six players were named to All-State teams. In her final season of coaching in 2011, Ruemenapp received the Michigan High School Coaches Association Division III Regional Coach of the Year award.
During her time at Petoskey, Ruemenapp was also instrumental in adding six new courts at the high school and had the pleasure of coaching her granddaughter and namesake Margaret Jensen for four years and her other granddaughter, Gabby Jensen, for one season. Two of her former Petoskey players, Erin Clutter and Kali Phillips, she had coached since both players were just three-years old.
Ruemenapp came into the Petoskey High School coaching job well prepared as she had also taught tennis for the Petoskey Parks and Recreation for 13 years. She also gave 10 years of service to the Northern Michigan Tennis Association as Junior Development Officer and then President. She also coached and administered the Junior Wightman Cup and Junior Davis Cup for the district.
In 1990, Ruemenapp started the Harbor Springs High School girls tennis program as a club and shortly thereafter formed a team. She coached the Rams for 11 seasons and put several of those years into fund raising efforts to build six courts. Her teams in Harbor Springs won several regional titles and attained a state ranking of No. 6.
During her stint in Harbor, Ruemenapp coached four All-State players, and was named the MHSTeCA Coach of the Year in 1991.
The accolades just kept coming for Ruemenapp later on, as she then was named the Lake Michigan Conference All Sports Conference Champions Coach in 2002-03, the Glenn Casey Award for Petoskey Parks and Recreation service and the Beyond the Scoreboard award as Youth Sports Leader in 2005 as well as the Petoskey Regional Area Chamber of Commerce “Athena Award” in 2003, which honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment in 2003.
In 2011, Ruemenapp was the Beyond the Scoreboard’s “Lifetime Achievement” award winner.
“It is no surprise that her leadership qualities, her desire to teach and promote positive character, her love of sport and community have deservedly brought her this award,” Karen Langs said.
All three of Ruemenapp’s daughters, Jennifer, Tina and Beth, were All-State high school players at Petoskey High School, as was her son, Andy Ruemenapp. All four of her children went on to play collegiate tennis.
After nine years as executive director of the NMTA, Ruemenapp stepped down because of heart surgery from which she is still recovering.
“I have to thank the myriad of tennis players and parents who have sent their warm wishes and prayers to our family,” Ruemenapp said.