USTA Section: Southern
Connie Cai, Freshman
Stephanie Dudzinski, Junior
Derek Hsu, Senior
Jennifer Huang, Junior
Sophia Kim, Junior
Jaisal Mariwala, Sophomore
Ernesto Traulsen, Sophomore
Brad Young, Senior
Teams Defeated: UNC, South Carolina, Auburn, Davidson
USTA.com: When did you discover that you had the talent to win as a team?
I think our team has been acquiring various talented players since our National Championship in 2009. Although we still have two senior male players who got to participate on the 2009 Nationals roster, the rest of our players want a championship of their own. With our powerhouse girls (all under 5’2), our height tends to just intimidate other players immensely! On our guys’ side as noted we have our two returning 2009 National Champions, along with two unexpected international students from India and Switzerland. Our team’s training in juniors, along with each player’s individual work ethic, makes us a strong team mentally and physically in matches and has led to our success thus far this year.
USTA.com: How does your team unwind after a day of matches?
Unfortunately, most of the tournaments this year have coincided with crazy midterm weeks for our players. After matches this year, we have usually had a relaxing dinner before we return to our hotel or dorm and hit the books. This tends to be the opposite of the "usual" Duke stereotype, but when we traveling to tournaments frequently our only option is to "work hard" and "work hard."
USTA.com: When you qualified, how did you celebrate?
When we qualified in Hilton Head, there was definitely lots of jumping, yelling and smiles on our teammates faces. However, it was a short celebration before we played Virginia in the finals. After qualifying at sectionals our team went out to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse to celebrate. Our relaxing dinner was full of delicious rice, attempts to catch shrimp in our mouths and sweet Japanese ice cream at the end.
USTA.com: If you were to list THREE specific things that need to happen in order to win a National Championship, they would be:
1) We need to treat our sleep schedule like we are at a tournament and not just at school since we will be sleeping in our own dorms.
2) We need to have a giant box of goldfish to snack on, since this our ritual tournament food.
3) None of our players can sprain their wrist during the first match of the tournament, like one of our senior guys did in the 2011 National Championship Tournament.
USTA.com: How do you exhibit school spirit?
Our team definitely tries to wear lots of Duke gear and cheer loudly for each other during the matches. We recently got new matching warm-ups for the guys and girls that hopefully, along with our cheering, emanates our school spirit that we have during basketball games.
USTA.com: Share with us a funny story about your team or team member(s).
Last year when one of our girls, Sophia, was playing a singles match at sectionals against Auburn she went to retrieve a ball from the fence and somehow got her foot stuck in the fence. She was unable to extract her foot and a tournament staff member had to come help her remove her foot before she could continue playing.