Tennis player awarded Judy Kruckman award
For the first time in a decade, a UW-Eau Claire student athlete has received the Judy Kruckman Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete award in tennis for her dedication to her school, team and community.
Taylor Heltne, a senior captain of the Eau Claire women’s tennis team from Inver Grove Heights (Minn.), has finally seen her hard work come full circle with the reception of
Assistant Coach Chris Kuna has witnessed Heltne develop in his time coaching and playing alongside her.
“Taylor has been a really good leader on and off the court,” Kuna said.
Kuna considers Heltne a power player, with a game that often overwhelms her
“Taylor has always been talented, but I think she’s gotten way better at controlling that big game over the years in a way that gives her an advantage,” Kuna said.
Heltne’s coaches consider her a great decision maker in tennis matches. This quality serves her teammates and translates to her work off the court as well.
Junior teammate Mary Frassetto recognizes Heltne as a sort of ‘team mom’.
“During her own matches, although Taylor is focused, she always keeps her eye out for other matches,” Frassetto said. “She’s always concerned with how we’re doing both on and off
Even during her last year as a member of the tennis team, Heltne has shown a great deal of progress.
During the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, Heltne’s hard work was reflected in her competitive finalist results in both singles and doubles.
Beyond the court, Heltne has excelled in the classroom. With a 3.9 grade point average, there is a great deal to be said about her work ethic.
Taylor’s mother, Teri Heltne, said her daughter has always been a hard worker.
“Taylor puts a lot on herself; she’s always held herself to a high standard,” Teri Heltne said. “All we’ve ever expected of her is to try her best, and she’s done great with that.”
Taylor Heltne’s parents have always considered her one to lead by example. Over the course of her three years as captain, Taylor Heltne has pushed herself to become a role model for her team.
“Her work ethic has always been there, but it’s definitely strengthened as a result of taking on so many responsibilities,” Teri Heltne said.
Taylor Heltne feels she has learned a great deal in her time as an athlete and a student at Eau Claire.
“Every year I’ve grown more as a player and a person,” said Taylor Heltne. “I’ll never take back from any of it.”
Taylor Heltne considers the Judy Kruckman award a great honor.
“It’s a weird feeling, because I’ve never looked at my individual success, only my team as a whole,” she said. “So it feels like I’ve done this for my team, and my school and community deserve it.”
Her coaches, teammates and family all feel the award is much deserved. The amount of time Taylor Heltne has dedicated to charity work in her community sets her above the competition.
“She has excelled all around in her career here at the university,” Kuna said. “Taylor is balanced when it comes to maintaining her work and tennis as well as reaching out to others.”
But her work is not done yet. In her time left at Eau Claire, she plans to continue on.
“As a tennis player, I want to continue to improve and make progress,” she said. “Beating UW-Whitewater is my goal for the spring.”
Taylor Heltne said she wants to continue to move forward and never look back.