Heather, B.J. Fleming capture another national tennis title

Community: Robins couple now has won 4 crowns

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Randy Krejci, community contributor

Editor’s note: Randy Krejci, a retired teacher, coach and administrator in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, remains active in local sports and serves as commissioner of the Mississippi Valley Conference. 

When tennis historians look at our town and select the player best known for national prominence, Micki Schillig Feldman comes to mind first and foremost.

A top player in Iowa at a very young age, Feldman was a three-time state champion for Cedar Rapids LaSalle when there was a one-class state tournament. Collegiately, she was a top-notch player for San Diego State University and in her best year reached the finals of the Division I NCAA national tournament, where she ended up second in the nation.

Her professional tennis career was highlighted by playing at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She is a USTA Missouri Valley Hall of Famer and the winningest coach in University of Iowa women’s tennis history.

But now — a couple of decades later — a new kid, or better yet, a new couple is on the block and have four national titles (2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016) to their credit. Heather (Mowery) and B.J. Fleming are the No. 1 ranked husband/wife mixed doubles team in the United States.

Heather, 39, is a 1995 graduate of Kennedy, where she was a standout for the Cougars. She played collegiately, starting at Iowa and finishing a stellar career at UNI.

Typically, tennis players enter singles, then same-sex doubles and might progress to mixed doubles in terms of competition. Heather played impressively in the state high school co-ed mixed tournaments — the only one of its kind in the nation — and even guided this author to four No. 1 rankings in Iowa around the turn of the century.

She now owns four national hard court husband/wife mixed doubles titles with her husband, B.J. Also a UNI graduate, he was a late bloomer in tennis but was an outstanding basketball player for Osage, climaxed by a state team championship in 1995 over Gilbert High School.

Heather finds “mixed doubles” a very valuable, exciting and key competitive category she enjoys with her spouse.

“We are very competitive and this brings us together and we are able to set a goal with our spouse,” she said. “It is sweeter when you win when your teammate is your spouse. I appreciate and see my husband in a different light on the courts.”

Many of her friends and acquaintances are intrigued about the competitiveness and accomplishments of couple.

“Since we now have children — three, including twins — we are more appreciative to be out on the tennis court,” Heather said. “We tell our friends that this is a select relationship and we appreciate this looking back at recent tournaments.

“We do focus on tennis and though we might get agitated occasionally, we know both have their head and heart in it. We make a great team on and off the court and this translates in to our teamwork at home and on the court.”

The 2016 Baird Iowa Open Tennis Tournament is July 22-24 at the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center and will include, among other divisions, mixed doubles. The Iowa Open is the longest running tournament in the state and where many tennis players, like Feldman or Fleming, get their initial start in tournament competition.

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