Loring inducted into ITA Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame

As the only Division I women’s tennis coach in history with more than 800 wins, it was probably just a matter of time before Indiana legend Lin Loring was elected to his sport’s hall of fame.

But as Loring reflected on the arrival of that honor — named Tuesday to the 2021 Class of the ITA’s Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame — he was reminded of a story from his illustrious career. It’s from Win No. 800, when all he was concerned about was how poorly his team was performing at Western Michigan.

“We go out in doubles and we just stink and I can’t figure out why we are stinking,” Loring said. “I have no idea but the girls know they have a cake back at the hotel saying ‘Congratulations on 800’ and they have this personalized bag of M&Ms with my picture on one side and ‘800’ on the other. They are nervous about not winning and having this celebration in the hotel lobby go south.

“I never paid attention to those kinds of things. But when they happen, it’s really nice.”

This time around, the retired coach was landscaping his yard when news of his selection broke. “It’s taken me five hours to get 20 minutes of work done,” Loring said of all the calls and texts he’s received. “But it’s nice.”

Loring wasn’t much concerned about his win total as it piled up coaching. He wasn’t anxiously awaiting a hall of fame nod, either. But it’s still an honor.

“It’s a special award because it’s from your peers that you’ve coached against for many, many years,” Loring said. “It’s a nice tribute to all the wonderful young ladies I coached in 44 years of college coaching.”

Loring developed quite the resume at IU. Of his 846 career wins, 804 came with the Hoosiers. His athletes won 16 Big Ten titles and made 28 national tournament appearances, including an AIAW national title in 1982.

While at IU, he mentored 25 All-Americans.

The other inductees in this ITA class are athletes Loring coached against, including Southern California’s AnnaMaria Fernandez-Ruffels and Georgia’s Lisa Spain Short. The third, Northwestern great Diane Donnelly Stone, was a player Loring recruited.

“She won two Big Ten championships in the ‘80s with Northwestern. We won the other eight in the 80s,” Loring said. “We were always playing against them in the finals … Indiana-Northwestern, it was a good rivalry. She’s just the sweetest girl around. For someone who didn’t play for me, I knew her pretty well. We stayed friends.”

“I always gave her dad a little grief when I saw him,” Loring added. “You don’t get them all.”

Of course, the hope is that the COVID-19 pandemic will subside and the actual ITA induction ceremony will go off without a hitch on Sept. 18, 2021.

Despite the pandemic, the last few weeks have been good to the former IU tennis coach. Loring was recently married in a quick courthouse ceremony.

The bride and groom each wore a mask.

“Considering what a crazy time it’s been,” Loring said, “I did have two very nice things happen in the last month.”

Fall tourneys to the spring

This week, the NCAA officially outlined its plan for fall championships to move to the spring.

Of course, this includes every sport other than FBS football, which doesn’t have an NCAA-controlled championship. This plan also doesn’t mandate when fall sports will start regular season play, because those decisions are made on a conference level.

In the NCAA’s plan:

• Men’s soccer will have a 36-team tournament selected on April 18, with championship dates between May 13-17. Of those teams, 24 will be automatic qualifiers, with another 12 as at-large bids.

• Women’s soccer will also be selected on April 18 and play May 13-17 but the tournament field will include 48 teams, 31 of those being automatic qualifiers.

• Women’s volleyball will also have a 48-team field (32 automatic qualifiers) but will be selected on April 4 and finish up with its championship dates from April 23-25.

• Men’s and women’s cross country will have 255 runners per gender. Those runners will be selected on March 6 with a championship on March 15.

• Field hockey will have a 12-team tournament with championship dates from May 7-9.

The NCAA also laid out “first competition” dates for each sport in 2021, but, again, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to wait until the spring to compete. Contests played in the fall “will count toward selection into that respective championship,” the NCAA’s release said.

The Big Ten has yet to announce a plan for when its fall sports other than football will compete. Last week, when the conference announced football’s October return, commissioner Kevin Warren indicated schedules for non-revenue fall sports were next on the docket.

Voter registration

IU has made Election Day an off-day for athletes, allowing them to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

And a few teams seem well-positioned to do just that.

On social media this week, IU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the volleyball team, announced they have 100 percent of their roster registered to vote.

In June, outgoing AD Fred Glass and incoming AD Scott Dolson announced IU would be making Election Day a mandatory day off from athletic activities. IU Athletics also offered civics programming through its Excellence Academy, hoping to advance conversations on racial justice that came after the murder of George Floyd.