Sports

Longtime GRCC tennis coach dies

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

The tennis world in south King County suffered a big loss last weekend. Green River Community College tennis coach Steve Sauers died Dec. 19 after a massive stroke. He was 64 years old.

“He had a positive impact on thousands of students,” said GRCC President Rich Rutkowski. “He will be missed by all of us.”

Sauers began his collegiate coaching career in 1970, when he established the men’s program at Green River. He added coaching duties for the women in 1979. During his tenure, Sauers’ teams won 35 NWAACC titles and he compiled an overall record of 920-121 (88 percent). That’s the most wins for any coach in the history of the NWAACC in any sport.

“I’ve known Steve since 1969 when I was coaching at Foster High School,” said longtime Decatur boys and girls coach Steve Escame. “We talked a lot about kids and I urged many of them toward his program because it was one of the best around. I used to joke because I never, ever saw Steve with a racquet in his hand, nor could any of the kids who played for him remember a racquet in his hands. Nevertheless, the success of his program is indisputable.”

Sauers was also a well-known member of the GRCC faculty. Sauers retired as a full-time business education instructor last year after coming to the Auburn campus in 1966. He still taught classes part-time this quarter.

“Steve loved teaching and coaching,” Rutkowski said.

According to the tennis records at the NWAACC office, the Gators won their first NWAACC men’s title in 1978 and their first women’s title in 1980. Since then, Green River went on to capture 19 men’s championships (including 11 in 12 years between 1992-2003) and finished runner-up eight times. The GRCC won 16 total NWAACC titles.

“He took care of his kids,” Escame said. “I’ll miss him because he would call a lot at the end of the year near state-tournament time and would bend my ear looking for the right kind of kids for his program. He took a lot of just above-average high school tennis players and they became highly competitive in his program. He rarely got a highly-ranked player.”

Sauers is survived by his wife, Deb, and two sons.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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