USTA Section: Northern
Ben Ballweber - Freshman
Jarrod Erdmann - Junior
Taylor Headlee - Sophomore
Scott Kompelien - Sophomore
Matt Makis - Junior
Kelly Rensink - Junior
David Russell - Freshman
Cassie Smith - Freshman
Erin Swanberg - Junior
Teams Defeated: North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota (B)
USTA.com: When did you discover that you had the talent to win as a team?
The day we enrolled at NDSU. NDSU is a winning college that is full of nothing but winners. We use our team chemistry to our advantage and have been able to finish in the top teams in almost all of our tournaments throughout the year.
USTA.com: How does your team unwind after a day of matches?
After a long day of tennis, our team seems to find somewhere really unhealthy to eat then hit up the hot tub to reminisce about the favorite memories of the day. Following the relaxation of the hot tub, we begin numerous intense games of Bananagrams.
USTA.com: When you qualified, how did you celebrate?
After winning that last point to put us in the National tournament, our team was giving out high fives left and right. Some hugs were given, some tears were shed, and the smiles of success were glued to our faces for hours and/or days. That night we went out for some ice cream in honor of return to Cary, North Carolina followed by a few more games of Bananagrams.
USTA.com: Tell us a bit about how your school is unique.
Our team is definitely different from any of the other teams in the United States. For starters, our team has no seniors on the roster. From our A to C team, the vast majority of our players on just starting their careers here at NDSU. Not only are we young, but we also live in Fargo, North Dakota. For those southerners who have yet to experience the life of a North Dakotan, the weather up here is not always sunny and 75 degrees. We will have temperatures in the negatives, wind gusts in the thirties, snow up to our knees and yet still will have class. If that is not dedication, we’re not too sure what is.
USTA.com: If you were to list THREE specific things that need to happen in order to win a National Championship, they would be:
- More outdoor practice prior to the National tournament would definitely help our chances of winning the championships. For NDSU, the weather does not allow us to play outside until April most years hence why we are usually the pasty white kids who get severely sunburned the first day of the tournament.
- Lots of money! Being part of an organization on campus, we only are funded for so much practice time throughout the week. We practice for about two hours during the winter months as we move indoors and about four to five hours a week in the fall and spring months. More money would provide us with more practice time and so we would be able to increase our awesome tennis skills.
- We also feel that recruiting some foreign exchange students that should actually be on professional tour would definitely help our chances. Seeing as our chances of getting an exchange student are slim-to-none, we concluded that our next thought would be to play a game of banana grams before every match followed by a game of "Sixes" or "Rip Your Face Off." (We'll explain a little later...)
USTA.com: How do you exhibit school spirit?
You'll find us chanting "Go Bison" or "Tatonka." Tatonka is just another word of meaning bison. We also have lime green and black sunglasses that we wear to all of our tournaments.
USTA.com: Share with us a funny story about your team or team member(s).
Towards the end of each practice, our team tends to enjoy playing a game known as "Rip Your Face Off". For this game, we divide our team up into two and form a line behind the baseline. Each team is rotating after each teammate hits, playing out one continuous point. Each individual is only allowed 3 "strikes" or mistakes before they have be seated at the service line without their racquets. When considering the game of tennis, we all know that the closer you get to your opponent, the less time you have to react. The thought of sitting at the service line, where most balls are consistently hit, without your racquet, can be quite frightening to many. To win the game, a team must get all of the members on the other team to be sitting on that service line. As a reward for winning, the team with the most members still standing gets to take a serve at the losing team while they are all bent over, with their butts facing the net and their racquets between their legs. Each member of the victorious team is allowed one serve in hopes of nailing a bent over teammate on the other end. If one’s serve happens to nail someone in the air without bouncing, they are forced to join the losing team on the line. This game is called "Butts Up" and always seems to make us laugh no matter if we win or lose.
USTA.com: Share with us an uplifting story about your team or team member(s).
Three words: Epileptic doubles team. Our mixed doubles team has played in multiple tournaments together, with and without the NDSU team and has yet to be defeated. How many teams do you think could say the same? The number is probably very few, if any. They play together better than a majority of the mixed doubles teams that have come out of NDSU in the past few years. There is an age difference of two years but you would never be able to guess judging by the way they play. In life, people are faced with many challenges and epilepsy is just one of those challenges that our team is set forth to conquer together. We consider our team a family and no one will ever be left behind.