It has been said that if there was a "mother" of tennis in northern Michigan, it would be Phyllis Laurila. She coached Iron Mountain High School tennis from 1980 until 2000. In this time, she led many players to regional and U.P championships. She led boys' teams to win 17 Mid-Peninsula Conference Championships and 14 U.P. State Championships. She led girls’ teams to win 10 Mid-Peninsula Conference Championships and 6 U.P State Championships. Her overall record consisted of 564 wins and only 38 losses in the 20 years that she coached.
In 1981, she led both her boys' and girls' teams to win both the U.P State Championships and Mid-Peninsula Conference Championships. That feat was repeated in 1982. Laurila regrets the fact that her teams could never compete in the state tournament in lower Michigan. She believes that many of her teams were good enough to go, but could not because high school tennis "remains separated by the bridge."
She coached the Iron Mountain High School tennis teams, the Volvo Cup Ladies League, and the Northern Michigan Federation Cup Team. She also helped with summer tennis programs and tournaments and was always willing to help students get involved in various tournaments in the U.P. and Wisconsin.
Phyllis has a bubbly personality and loves to make tennis fun for everyone. Scott Colantonio, a former tennis player, remembers an intra-team tournament that Phyllis organized. She gave the winners eight chocolate pies that she had made a few days prior.
Her tennis philosophy was, "Keep trying to improve your strokes, stick with fundamentals and basics. You'll improve much faster."