The Perfect Match

Yuko Hirose

When Vaquero women’s tennis head coach Louella Parsons-Wohglemuth started teaching her daughter Deborah Ekola as a young girl, she never knew that one day they would both be coaching tennis together.

Head coach Parsons-Wohglemuth started teaching her daughter Deborah Ekola when she was 8-years-old, and now they both take up the head and assistant positions of the Vaquero women’s tennis squad.

“I started [tennis] late,” said Parsons-Wohglemuth, who was a member of the rodeo team at Texas A&M University. “I was in my 20s, but my athleticism picked up tennis quickly. I majored in biology and minored in chemistry and history, but my first love was tennis.”

Parsons-Wohglemuth began coaching Vaquero tennis in 1988, and after 11 years, she retired in 1999. Then with a request from City College, she started coaching tennis again in 2006.

“Of course I missed coaching,” Parsons-Wohglemuth said. “But I also learned how to play golf [while I was retired].”

Due to a bad knee from tennis, Parsons-Wohglemuth insisted that she needed help coaching. So she brought in her daughter Deborah Ekola who was a star City College tennis player from 1978 to 1980. After graduating from Fresno State University, Ekola has been teaching aerobics, fitness and pilates at City College since 1983.

This January, Ekola decided to join her mother and the Vaquero coaching staff. Now both mother and daughter coach the Vaquero women’s squad with contrasting styles to strengthen the team’s play.

“We have different functions,” Ekola said. “I am good at fitness and my mother is a tennis dissector. We complement each other, and we try not to step on each other’s toes that much.”

Having coached City College tennis for numerous years, head coach and mother Parsons-Wohglemuth plans to one day hand over her position to her daughter Deborah.

“My true goal is, I want her to take over my place,”Parsons-Wohglemuth said. “I want to go back to golf. But right now, her answer is no.”

Unable to take her mother’s position, Deborah insists that she has other responsibilities in life that need tending to.

“That’s what she wants, but I can’t coach at this moment,” Ekola said. “My priority is family. I have three sons. They are 18, 16, and 9, and the time I am allowed to work at City College is maxed out.”

On the other hand, Ekola said she loves coaching women’s tennis.

“I love the girls because I don’t have girls in my family. This is my favorite age group. I want to make it difference if I can. Tennis is really stimulating and challenging, and that’s why I love working here,” Ekola said.

Ekola expresses that her love for tennis makes the job a little bit easier.

“Find what you enjoy, and then it is not a job anymore. I get to know new people. It’s my fun time. I do what I love,” Ekola said.