USTA Section: Midwest
William Heuer - Senior
Casey Kinney - Sophomore
Sarah Kitchell - Junior
Jessica Rink (President) - Sophomore
Philipp Siebels - Senior
Teams Defeated: UW-Platteville, DePaul, Western Michigan, Dayton, Northwestern
USTA.com: When did you discover that you had the talent to win as a team?
Before arriving in Madison [for Sectionals]. As a team, we knew we had the talent and potential to go far in the tournament, but we had no idea we would end up doing so well. We knew that we would have to compete against some of the top schools in the Midwest, but that just made the tournament more exciting for us. We had been practicing for this all year and always felt like we had the talent to go far as a team.
USTA.com: How does your team unwind after a day of matches?
We love to go out and eat a nice dinner after a long day of matches. There is nothing more satisfying than eating a big dinner after competing and winning against a really tough team. Also, we are a very social team, so we enjoy hanging out with other teams that are staying at the same hotel as us.
USTA.com: When you qualified, how did you celebrate?
Going into the mixed doubles match, the team was only up by one game -- so obviously both members of our mixed doubles team, Jessica and Billy, were very nervous. The rest of the team got caught up in the moment when it was over and we had won, starting with Jessica dropping her racquet and running up to Billy to give him a hug in celebration. We all embraced for a solid five minutes after the win because we were so excited to qualify. After the hugs and high-fives were over, the smiles remained through the night and even now!
USTA.com: Tell us a bit about how your school is unique?
Purdue University is very unique because of the diversity we have. There are so many students that come to Purdue from all different countries across the world because of the great programs Purdue offers -- it's somewhere everyone can fit in and feel at home.
USTA.com: How does your team fundraise? Do you serve your local community in a meaningful way?
The team sells delicious baked goods and tennis charms and bracelets. Also, we volunteer at local tennis events and offer instruction to young kids.
USTA.com: If you were to list three specific things that need to happen in order to win a National Championship, they would be:
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. We need to make sure we don’t get too confident with our skill level. We all need to keep playing and working on our weaknesses and push ourselves to continue to work hard every single day at practice.
- Stay confident. We can’t succeed at Nationals if we go in with a bad mentality and think that other teams will be better than us. It is important to always stay positive with our team, even when we are down by a lot in a match because it honestly isn’t over until it’s over.
- Have fun. Every single match we play, we make sure to make the best of it. We always manage to have a great time at our matches, even though we sometimes don’t play as well as we would like or necessarily win every single match.
USTA.com: How do you exhibit school spirit?
Our team is very strong with school spirit. We make sure to wear Purdue clothes every single match so everyone knows where we are from. When a team member is not playing and they’re on the sidelines, we make sure that they cheer as loud as they can for our team. We make sure to pump each other up throughout the match and always cheer on the Purdue team as a whole, not just a specific individual, the whole match.
USTA.com: Share with us a funny story about your team or team member(s).
Our team members are either very light or very heavy sleepers. Two stories come to mind: One, our team had late matches one night, so when we went to dinner, we were all very tired. Phil ordered a huge meal for dinner and somehow managed to fall asleep, sitting up, in between ordering his food and receiving it. Right when the food arrived at the table, he woke right back up like nothing happened and ate every last bite.
Another funny story happened at Midwest Sectionals last year. We were scheduled to play Indiana in the 5th/6th place match at 8 p.m. and we all slept through our alarms, waking up at 7:45. Somehow, we managed to still make it on time to our match and beat them.
USTA.com Share with us an uplifting story about your team or team member(s).
The most uplifting event that has happened to us would be beating Dayton to go onto Nationals. We went into the mixed doubles match really worried and uptight, but after that first game we loosened up and played the best tennis we have ever played. It was so awesome seeing Casey, Phil, and Sarah on the sidelines jumping up and down, cheering for the whole match. Team support [in this format] is such an important trait needed in order to win.