By Andrew Holman | Sports Editor
Take a glimpse into Duquesne University’s women’s tennis record book, and you will find the name Kylie Isaacs scattered all over the place.
In just the beginning stages of her junior season, Isaacs has already secured her spot as one of the best tennis players to ever represent Duquesne. But, it doesn’t stop there. Isaacs currently sits just 27 total wins shy of becoming the winningest tennis player in school history.
“It means so much, it really does,” Isaacs said. “I look at that, and I think of all the time and effort that I have put in, but not only that, also the people around me. My team, my coaches, my family, my professors — the amount of support I have had to reach that, that is kind of the reward, and it shows the people who have supported me that it does make a difference.”
Isaacs began playing tennis at just three and a half years old and she has been committed to the sport ever since. Along with that came a lot of moving around from coaches, to tennis clubs to tournaments all in an attempt to improve her game.
Her passion for the sport has certainly paid off as tennis has allowed her to meet so many people and do so many things that she might not have been able to do without it. One of those things she said may have never happened without tennis is attending an excellent academic institution like Duquesne University.
Interestingly enough, after Isaacs was already committed to Duquesne, she soon learned that her coach since age 12, Rob Gregoire, was taking over the ropes as the Dukes’ Director of Tennis to oversee both the men’s and women’s programs. The two already had a special bond, and Isaacs credits Gregoire for much of her success.
Right away, Isaacs was placed into a comfortable and familiar situation and that certainly showed when she hit the courts. In her first two seasons for the Dukes, Isaacs was named Atlantic 10 First Team All-Conference both years, and additionally, set the school record for total wins by a freshman (45) and followed that with the same feat in her sophomore season (56). She has also been named A-10 Player of the Week six times, including most recently on Jan. 24.
Just one year after setting the freshman wins record, it was broken by none other than her doubles partner, Julianne Herman. Herman captured 47 wins in her freshman season — 24 of those coming from her doubles pairing with Isaacs.
“Jules is my buddy,” Isaacs said. “I love playing doubles with her. We have one of those rare connections. It is something that you can’t even describe. On and off the court, we are very similar … She is one of my best friends.”
The two were quite the dominant duo last season, and they still have nearly two full years together to build on the legacy and the friendship that they have already established.
“Kylie’s literally the best person ever,” Herman said. “When we play doubles together, we cannot stop laughing or smiling in between points … but we are also super intense on court and want to win every point. She’s definitely my greatest challenge on court, but off-court, we are best friends. She’s genuinely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and wants the best for everyone.”
The tandem led Duquesne to a 16-win season in 2016, which tied the most team wins in school history. The Dukes will have a chance to build on that this season, and they are already off to a 3-1 start, with a big weekend of matches coming up against the University of Pittsburgh and the Atlantic 10 opener versus Saint Joseph’s.
Along with racking up as many team wins as possible and advancing as far into the A-10 Championships as they can, Isaacs also hopes to strengthen the unity within her team, which she believes can translate to more wins in the long run.
Meet with Isaacs, and her love for the sport shines through with the contagious smile she exhibits everytime she talks about the game or her teammates.
With nearly two full seasons remaining, Isaacs has a chance to shatter the current total wins record and capture a few more school records as well as Atlantic 10 All-Conference selections. But even with all her success on the court and in the classroom as a member of the Atlantic 10 All-Academic team, Isaacs surely still needs a source of motivation every once in awhile, and she gets that from a familiar place.
“There is no clock in tennis.”
That is a quote Isaac’s’ father created as inspiration for her to never give up and to realize that there is always time to come back in each match. And although there may always be time to come back in tennis, Isaacs embraces the time she has at Duquesne, knowing it will inevitably come to an end.
“My goal is to just look back on it years from now and say, ‘Those were the best four years of my life. I gave everything,’ and to just not have any regrets.”