Laura DeHaan Haske played tennis for Belmont from 2001-2004 and became one of the top players in the program’s Division I era. She ranks fourth in career singles victories (47) and third in career singles winning percentage (.671). In doubles, she and partner Starr Steffner rank first in career wins with 28 and won 80 percent of their matches. In addition, she helped the team post 39 victories during her career. She recently spoke with Belmont Athletics about her time at Belmont and her present role as wife, mother, and college instructor in Chicago.
What years did you play at Belmont?
I played tennis at Belmont from the 2001-2002 school year through the 2003-2004 school year. I graduated a year early. Otherwise, I would have stayed and played my last year.
Why did you choose Belmont?
I chose Belmont for several reasons. The coach and teammates I met during my tour were kind and welcoming. I knew I would like spending time with them every day. I was also impressed with the honors program at Belmont, which allowed me to pursue my academic interests in a rigorous and creative environment. The campus was beautiful too.
What is your fondest athletic memory at Belmont?
My favorite memory was travelling with my teammates. They would keep me laughing for hours. We also liked to watch Coach Mark negotiate with various hotels until he got the best price. In terms of on-the-court memories, I can remember the excitement of each conference tournament – All the work of the season leading up to that moment.
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Belmont?
Coach Mark Srouji. He helped me develop my strokes and was a positive influence every time we were together as a team. We knew he wanted the best for us. My game developed while I was with him. I still play tennis now, so those years with Coach Mark have been very valuable.
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Belmont?
Perspective and gratitude. Playing Division I tennis was one of my goals as a kid, and Belmont made it possible. I’m forever grateful for that opportunity. My education at Belmont on and off the court helped shape my thinking about the world and my place in it.
What advice would you give to current members of the tennis team?
Have fun! Enjoy your time with each other. It goes so quickly. Also, listen to your coach. He knows what he’s talking about.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
What a difficult question. I had many wonderful professors at Belmont. I was an English major and had significant interactions and learning moments with each of my English professors. Sue Trout was always fun, so I took as many classes as I could from her. Dr. Cox helped me through a difficult season. Of course, the honors program faculty were amazing – Dr. Thorndike, Dr. Byrne & Dr. Boan. I had Dr. Michael Pinter for an analytics class. He made my English-major heart realize that math could be awesome too.
Where do you live now?
I live in a Chicago suburb called Elgin. It’s where I grew up.
What is your occupation?
I’m employed full-time as a community college instructor at Elgin Community College. I’m the instructional coordinator for their paralegal program. I’m also a licensed attorney and own a law practice with my husband, who is also a Belmont alumnus.
Tell us about your family.
I married my best friend Paul Haske the summer after we graduated from Belmont University. He was a history and philosophy major and knew he wanted to go to law school. We had taken several courses together in college. After his first semester of law school, he convinced me to join him. He was sworn in as a lawyer in 2007 and I was sworn in a year later.
In 2011, we had our first and (for now) only child – Caleb Haske. He’s a reader too and starting to make his way around the tennis court.
My parents live a mile down the road from us, and my siblings all live in the same town. I play tennis with my dad several times a week. We’ve started playing national father-daughter tournaments through the USTA, which has been a lot of fun.