Stevens: Old Lobo Roots Lead Kristin Eggleston To UNM
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/13/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 13, 2010

Lobos at Linda Estes Tennis Complex
Friday: BYU at Lobos, 2 p.m.
Saturday: Utah at Lobos, 2 p.m.
Sunday: TCU at Lobos, 3 p.m.

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's fair to say that part of the reason Kristin Eggleston is a Lobo is because Michelle Heidbrink used to be a Lobo -- and not because Heidbrink is a Lobo.

Confused? Well, the recruiting story of Eggleston rolls out like this:

Lobo coach Roy Cañada was searching, well, the world looking for some young talent in which to build up his UNM women's program. He called up Heidbrink, a former Lobo player, and asked her if she had any future Lobos in her area code.

At that time, it was the Palm Desert, Calif., area code where Heidbrink was coaching high school tennis. Heidbrink -- not yet a UNM assistant -- already had been gently pushing one of her seniors (Eggleston) in the direction of Albuquerque.

"I watched her grow as a player and even had hit some balls with her when she was younger," said Heidbrink. "When Kristin started looking at colleges in her senior year, I said, 'Hey, what about UNM?'

"That was just me being an ex-Lobo. I didn't even have the job then. It wasn't even open then. I was just an ex-Lobo pushing my school. I got the job a couple of months after Kristin signed here."

Of course, Heidbrink did have a slight agenda in pushing Eggleston toward UNM. Heidbrink was planning to apply for the job. She figured if she landed it, it would be nice to coach Eggleston on the next leg of her tennis journey.

"Kristin is one of those people and players who goes above and beyond in everything they do," said Heidbrink, who came to UNM in June of 2009. "In high school, she was one of those players who was the first one to the court and one of the last to leave. She is just a super motivated girl.

"And she is so much fun just to be around."

Eggleston doesn't hide the fact that she is happy to be on the tennis court. She smiles a lot. She is known for her smile. Sometimes it even looks like she is smiling when she pounds a tennis ball back across the net.

That doesn't mean that Eggleston isn't a tough player. She has a few hard edges when the racket is in hand. The Lobo freshman, battling in the dog-eat-dog trenches of Division I tennis, is known as a fighter -- game by game, point by point.

In a season in which the young Lobos are being tested physically and mentally, it's a good trait to have.

"I feel like I'm a fighter on the court. I never really give up," said Eggleston, who is 9-24 as a Lobo. "I can come back because I won't give up.

"I probably play better when I'm behind. I seem to get a little tense when I'm up. When I'm behind, I play like I have nothing to lose and I'm more aggressive."

Eggleston's says her strength is on the base line. "I tend to stay back," she said. "I think I do a good job with different shots, mixing things in. I need to work on attacking the net more."

Kristin Eggleston

So far, it's been a challenging year for Eggleston and the Lobos, who are 1-17 on the season. "We haven't given up. We're still fighting," she said. "It's been a tough year, but we are doing a good job of concentrating and going out there trying to get better."

A big adjustment for many freshmen is balancing the demands of being both a student and an athlete. Eggleston had a few advantages in that department. She had a 4.3 GPA at Palm Desert High. She has a 3.8 -- so far -- as a UNM freshman.

"I love it here," she said. "I didn't think about playing time when I came here. I just had a good feel about the coaches and the players.

"But it's been a good opportunity to get experience. Now, I just need to work on getting better," she said, through a smile.

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net.