Story by Brad Carlson | Photos by Jean Wolford
Tennis got into Katie Ware’s blood almost as fast as a passing shot down the line.
Before she became Eagle High School’s tennis coach and the owner-operator of a business through which she made the sport her life’s work, she was an EHS volleyball and basketball player looking for something to do during the off season. That first racquet she picked up when she was almost 17 turned out to be the ticket to an Idaho State University scholarship, a career and an opportunity to promote one of the state’s growing hobbies.
She excelled athletically at ISU and earned all-conference academic honors. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and a master’s in athletic administration and physical education. She worked in the sports information office, often covering tennis from competitions on the road.
“It’s a great sport,” Ware said. “A lot of people think it’s a country club sport, but it’s not.”
Tennis isn’t all that expensive to get into, and the new player can quickly find an enjoyable path in the sport thanks to its variety of settings and competitive formats, she said. Fun, camaraderie, and satisfaction from improving can be found on southwest Idaho courts from parks and schools to private clubs.
Ware teaches lessons, runs tournaments and strings racquets through Kware Tennis, which she launched in early 2015. She’s assistant pro at Crane Creek Country Club in north Boise. She previously worked at the Idaho Tennis Association, where part of her email address there inspired the name of her business.
She arrives early on a midsummer morning at the Eagle High courts to practice with a doubles partner. Quickly, she’s joined by other adults – including another instructor – as well as high school students Chris Jirout of Capital and EHS senior Kennidi Amorebieta, practicing on their own. Jirout, working on his backhand down the line, said a tournament Ware ran in mid-July was very well organized and a lot of fun. Amorebieta, focusing on overall consistency, said Ware “cares about the team and is a good coach.”
Ware said high school players usually focus on strategy and fine tuning during the approximately two-month team season. Come summertime, they play in some tournaments but have more time to address fundamentals such as on-court movements and the various grips – hard-won changes to which can pay off later.
Ware teaches an all-around game that combines solid ground strokes and correct movement with a willingness to go on the offensive near the net given the right opportunity. As a player, the former Katie Zigars discovered and developed her offensive game fairly late in her tennis career at Idaho State.
“Lots of people want to come out and learn,” said Ware, 32. The instructional side of Kware Tennis includes new and repeat students of various ages and skill levels.
While Ware does not teach at the new indoor facility in Eagle but ran an adult tournament there recently. “We should always have more tennis courts and quality instructors” given the sport’s growth, she said. Eagle Tennis Club “gives more people the opportunity to have access to tennis and reminds people of the sport as they drive by.”
The fleeting nature of perfection is one life lesson that tennis teaches well, she said.
“It’s very addicting, hitting a good shot,” Ware said. “It’s fun, and as a coach it’s fun watching people ‘get it’ and have the light-bulb moment.”