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Meet Maggy Lehmicke (pronounced Lem-a-kee) from Kirkland, Washington. She’s the No. 1 singles player on the Nebraska women’s tennis team. Even though she’s just a sophomore, Maggy is the one and only 2014 team captain. At 10-0, she’s also unbeaten in singles competition heading into Friday’s 3 p.m. match against Iowa at the Nebraska Tennis Center and Sunday’s 4 p.m. match against Wichita State at the same Lincoln location – 7600 North 70th Street.
When you talk to Maggy, you hear the same tone, tenor, and theme as the person she succeeded as captain, and I’m not the only one who comes to that conclusion. Nebraska Head Coach Scott Jacobson sees remarkable similarities between Mary Weatherholt, the most legendary tennis player in Husker history, and Maggy Lehmicke, the new kid on the block who’s systematically trying to build an equally solid foundation for her future.
“Maggy’s learned a lot from the leadership of both Mary and Patty Veresova when they were senior captains last year,” Jacobson said. “Maggy has just stepped up and become a very similar leader in all aspects. It’s just been amazing to see, but not surprising. Maggy has always been someone who’s had tremendous work ethic on the court. She’s selfless in nature and has very similar characteristics to Mary, and that’s been great for our program.”
Sophomore Lehmicke Creating Her Own Legacy
Lehmicke is genuine, sincere and philosophically immersed in the day-to-day process of getting better. “She holds the bar pretty high for herself, just like Mary, in terms of expectations,” Jacobson said. “She’s a perfectionist by nature and doesn’t want to leave this university feeling like she didn’t do her best in every single aspect of her life, academically, athletically and personally. She’s creating her own legacy and has a burning desire to succeed in everything.”
A Journalism major with a 3.75 grade-point-average, Lehmicke ranks writing right up there with fashion design and yoga to help balance the ultra-competitive side of her life.
With Weatherholt ranking among the 10 most elite student-athletes in all of collegiate athletics, male or female last year, Lehmicke said it would have been hard not to learn from being her teammate. “She was definitely one of the most positive people I’ve ever met, and that positivity really helped her on the court,” Lehmicke said.
Huskers are Rebuilding in Next Couple Years
That framework helps Lehmicke understand how a young captain leads a young team. “I’d say this year is about rebuilding,” she said. “I feel like teams go through different phases and these next couple of years will be rebuilding, but there’s nothing to say that this group of girls will be any different than the group of girls that came here with Mary. Four girls built up that team, and a few of us just happened to show up at the right time.”
The Huskers reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history because they aimed high and achieved. “Mary was all about team,” Lehmicke said. “She had great team spirit, and she was just a big part of having that energy on the court. She was completely fearless and played without fear all the time. Every one of us is a different type of player. We’re all our own people, but there are definitely things we can take from Mary and build our own legacy.”
In many ways, Lehmicke doesn’t feel her own role has changed much. “I feel like I would have done many of the same things I’m doing now, even if I wasn’t designated captain,” she said. “Most of the things I do are because I feel obligated to do them. I don’t think too much about the title captain.”
She does think about and appreciate the diversity on the team she captains. “I didn’t just want to go to college and be on a team with just American girls,” she said. “We have girls from Sweden, Germany, India and Canada. I don’t see a huge separation. Our chemistry is genuine. Any differences we have are not big ones. There are little things we joke about as we learn each other’s languages, so we can cheer each other on in each other’s languages. I don’t look at us as a fully international team because I’ve seen those teams and I don’t like thinking of us being like that. I like to think of us as just being diverse.”
Late Bloomer Experienced Early Knee Problems
Because she had fairly severe knee problems growing up in Washington, Lehmicke was a late bloomer who didn’t receive a bushel of scholarship offers, even though she was ranked as the No. 2 player in both the state of Washington and the Northwest Region. Her final two collegiate choices were Missouri or Nebraska. “I’m glad I came to Nebraska. Being a student-athlete here is different than most places,” she said, acknowledging that she also took official visits to Iowa and Wisconsin. “Nebraska makes an athletic scholarship a full-fledged program.” Academic standards and life skills development are built into the experience. “Because I really didn’t know what I was capable of (achieving), Nebraska was like a dream come true,” Lehmicke said.
As a captain, Lehmicke goes out of her way to understand different motivational and philosophical approaches. A member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, she enjoyed hearing former Husker and NFL tight end Jamie Williams speak to the group. “He talked about servant leadership, and I think that’s a good way to describe what our team is all about,” she said. “We want to be leaders who serve each other. We want to do things for other people. We’re not talking about bossing people around. I feel like that’s sort of our legacy. I feel like my job as a captain is to represent that servant leadership and carry that out.”
Introspection has helped Lehmicke come to that conclusion. “I feel like I’ve changed over the years. I used to take myself too seriously,” she said. “Having one year of college tennis under my belt, I realize that I’m doing this because I love it. If I miss a forehand, it’s not the end of the world. The team environment has caused me to pay more attention to them. Everything’s about how our team does and not just how I do as an individual.”
Russian Step Dad Introduced Her to the Sport
Lehmicke’s step dad is Russian. “He’s helped me a lot,” she said. “He was my tennis coach who got me started on the court. I got a late start in tennis because I played a lot of other sports,” she said. “I started tennis the spring before I turned 12 in the same area in Washington where I grew up. My step dad didn’t own a club or anything. He just taught me how to play on middle-school courts, and he ran summer camp. He gave me and my friends lessons. I played my first tournament two months after I started and got into the finals of it.
“I was a very different person at the time,” she recalled. “The instant gratification was what got me motivated to play. After that, my stepdad coached me for a few years and then I got involved in some tennis academies with some coaches in the Seattle area. Most of those coaches are international, too. All of the people I trained with were Russian. When I started training in the academy, most of them were American. That’s where I learned that you only get out of something what you put into it. You couldn’t survive in that place without being a hard worker.”
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