TENNIS

Teel: Title IX opportunity set Hokies tennis pioneers on path to lifelong sporting adventures | Virginia Tech

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David Teel Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Anne Jones and Lynne Krulich completed the 1992 Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii and ran the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996. They play in various tennis leagues and have participated in a myriad of adventure races – think cross-country running , mountain biking, repulsion and paddling.

The identical twins wonder if any of these adult athletic conquests would have happened had it not been for the Title IX and their Virginia Tech tennis career.

Title IX of the Education Amendment Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in “any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Then-President Richard Nixon signed the measure 50 years ago on June 23, 1972, days after Lynne and Anne graduated seventh grade at War Junior High School in McDowell County, W. Go.

With no girls’ teams at school, the sisters had petitioned the school board to run on the boys’ track team. Their father, Jim, Assistant Superintendent, may have lobbied on their behalf.

Anne was a middle-distance runner, Lynne a hurdler, and their male teammates and coaches welcomed them. By the time they reached high school, Title IX-mandated girls’ teams emerged and the twins competed in track and field, basketball, and tennis, the latter being their specialty.

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Sport has always been a Jones family obsession. The twins traveled with their grandparents and parents to Virginia Tech football games, about a two-hour drive from War, and gleaned their bold spirit from their grandfather.

“[He] pretty much taught Lynne and I to run and ride horses and shoot guns and play basketball and softball, whatever,” Anne said. “He wanted grandsons. He has granddaughters, but that hasn’t stopped him. And so much the better for us. We like that.”

The twins graduated from high school in 1977, a few months after Virginia Tech completed its first college women’s basketball season. The Hokies added women’s tennis for 1977-78, and the Jones girls became the school’s first scholarship-holding female athletes, albeit on partial grants.

They played for three head coaches in four years, including an engineering professor who happened to play tennis. The women’s athletic teams shared a spartan locker room, and the women’s tennis team practiced under the lights of the Washington Street courts from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., so the athletic department could rent the courts to the general public during the day.

Lynne and Anne did not feel slighted.

“We knew what [Title IX] had done for us so far,” Lynne said. “…I don’t know if we understood the enormity, but we were aware that it was something special for us to be on a sports scholarship there. We were delighted.

Anne majored in physical education with a minor in history, while Lynne majored in English. Both got their masters at Tech before life took them to different courses.

Lynne returned to West Virginia and worked for decades in health clubs. Anne became the Hokies’ first full-time women’s tennis coach, a position she held for 16 seasons.

His starting salary was $7,000, and wow, what a bargain for Virginia Tech.

From 1985-2000, Anne guided the Hokies to a 260-159 record, five Atlantic 10 Conference championships and five NCAA Tournaments. Under her leadership and with the support of athletic directors such as Dave Braine and Jim Weaver, as well as men’s tennis coach Larsen Bowker, women’s tennis gradually emerged from its infancy.

Training times have become reasonable and convenient. The scholarship and operating budgets have increased. Improved facilities and equipment.

Indeed, Virginia Tech fully funds all eight NCAA-sanctioned women’s tennis scholarships, and according to its 2020-21 NCAA Financial Report, women’s tennis operating expenses ($873,999) exceeded men’s tennis ($809). $712).

Similarly, women’s swimming, soccer and golf had larger operating budgets than their male counterparts.

“Technology has arrived like the rest of the country,” Anne said, “as far as I know. …I think Tech did as good a job as anyone. … [Women are] still not equal. There are many places where we are still not equal. But I think as far as athletics, at least at Virginia Tech, they did a good job.

The Hokies opened their Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center in 1992, about halfway through Anne’s coaching tenure. Featuring 12 outdoor courts and six indoor courts, the complex was a marked upgrade. But after 30 years, Anne would like to see Tech invest in upgrades or a new facility.

“Our establishment is magnificent, she says, but it is old and [lacking] compared to other ACC schools. And it’s not about gender equity or Title IX at all. It’s the same for men.

Anne has found her home in Blacksburg and is an integral part of Burrows-Burleson, where she teaches and competes. Lynne moved to Blacksburg in 2013 and the twins, now 63, play a lot of tennis together.

Prior to the move, Lynne had been out of the sport for over 30 years. She was working full time, raising a family, taking up golf, and traveling the country with Anne doing marathons, Ironman, and adventure races.

Anne blames Lynne, who worked in fitness centers with swimming pools, for their triathlon dive, and after watching an Ironman, the sisters yearned to join the fun/craziness and complete the 2.4-mile swim, the course 112 mile cyclist and the full marathon. Friends and family accompanied them on a 10-day trip to Hawaii, and the twins sailed in about 15 hours.

Four years later, they clocked the Boston Marathon qualifying time of three hours and 45 minutes, at a pace of about 8:36 per mile. It earned them the privilege of joining a record crowd of 38,708 for the 100th edition of the iconic race.

The cranky joints that come with age and relentless activity have curtailed Anne and Lynne’s feats of endurance, unless there’s another game of tennis to play.

“We really had a blessed life,” Lynne said.

“Obviously Lynne and I owe Title IX a lot,” Anne said. “That’s probably what started this whole thing, being able to go do what we wanted to do.”

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