Kylie Dunning doesn’t play as big a role on her varsity team as she did when she played the No.2 singles and No.1 doubles for the Le Sueur high school women’s tennis team -Henderson, but she’s part of the team and making the most of her chances.
Now in her sophomore year on the Luther College women’s tennis team, Dunning has come a long way in singles and doubles, but she plays most matches in No.6 singles and No.3 doubles.
Despite being lower in roster, Dunning was a key player in helping the Norse win the American Rivers Conference Championships in her first two seasons at Luther.
“Individually my highlight was getting the winning point against Wartburg’s freshman who led to our conference championship,” said Dunning. “As a team, winning both the conference championship in 2019 and 2020 has been a very exciting event for everyone. This year in particular has been very special, as we were one of the very few conferences that could compete. To be able to win this championship has been a huge accomplishment.
“We were one of the very few college conferences participating in college athletics this fall due to COVID-19. We had fewer games in our season, but having the opportunity to play is something we were all grateful for. We also had to take many precautions, having our temperatures taken before each workout, wearing masks and social distances to the best of our ability.
“My goal is to improve myself a little more each time I step on the pitch, while enjoying every moment. I hope that as a team we can win the conference championship in my four years, while reaching the national championships in the years to come. “
Head Coach Adam Strand said Dunning “has been an exceptional addition to our squad since the moment she set foot on campus. Kylie is very coachable and a great competitor. She is well respected by her teammates and is ready to work on the training ground every day. Kylie continues to be a valuable contributor to our team and has a bright future ahead of her.
“Kylie mainly played number 6 in our singles roster and has always performed well in this role on our team. She has entered dual university training a few times and still rivals the highest level of sportsmanship. Kylie is an excellent representative for Luther tennis and Luther College as a whole. She played a key role in helping our team win conference championships in her first two seasons at Luther. I am delighted to see Kylie continue to be one of our team leaders.
Dunning said that no specific part of his game has improved more than others, but overall his level of play is higher. “I have improved a lot since playing tennis in high school. Being a varsity athlete is a bigger commitment than high school, and we practice year round. “
Dunning said she chose Luther College “because it felt right at home when she visited, as cliché as it sounds. I liked the town of Decorah, the size of the school and Overall people were nice and friendly when I visited Tennis was just a great addition and after meeting Coach Strand I wanted to join the team.
Many coaches over the years have inspired Dunning to greatness, but she gives most of the credit to her parents.
“Although I have had many amazing coaches throughout my life, I would credit the majority of my success to my parents, Marni and Cormac Dunning,” said Kylie. “My parents supported me every step of the way, never missing any of my important events. They push me to give the best of myself every day, while fully investing in everything I do.
Dunning has given Le Sueur-Henderson back the last two summers by helping with the summer tennis program for high school. “I love helping and working with the girls,” Dunning said.
Dunning isn’t the only Le Sueur-Henderson athlete at Luther. His classmate, Lane Schwartz, enrolled in Luther the same year. He is part of the Nordic cross-country and track and field teams.
“Lane and I have always been good friends, but reuniting with Luther was a coincidence,” Dunning said. “We both loved the school and the opportunity to continue playing our sports.”
A major in management, with a minor in health promotion, Dunning said his career goals were still undecided.