Tennis captain, Julia Bachmann, looks forward to a strong season

Spencer Sortman, Reporter

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The swing of a racket, the quick scuffle of feet. Focus and confidence translate to points won. The cliche “practice like you play” is often applicable to top athletes; to senior Julia Bachmann, this phrase means so much more. From the start of practice to its finish, the No. 1 singles player is putting in more than 100 percent effort, both physically and mentally. The determination to improve is not only fueled by her desire to win, it is charged by a pure love for the sport.

Bachmann’s road to being a top tennis player started at a young age. Her grandfather was a tennis player who bought her first racket when she was four and started sending her to lessons. This sparked her love for tennis that would stay with her and drive her to excel.

“I remember being at the tennis club and playing a game where we would try to hit the coach with the ball for target practice,” Bachmann said.

This energetic type of practice made her fall in love with the sport and is a part of the player she is today. Not only did the sport itself play a part in Bachmann’s decision to stick with tennis, her coaches were also a factor.

“Especially from the beginning,” Bachmann said. “My coaches were very energetic and that helped me get into the sport. Both Chris Wilton (Bachmann’s stepfather and current coach) and Jorge Capestany (manager of Hope College’s tennis center) have been really influential and they’ve both given me great advice, especially over the past few years over how to improve my game.”

Bachmann is not only an accomplished player, but she’s been playing tennis since a very young age.

“Julia has a very high level knowledge of the game because she’s played for so long and she also has a big desire for the team to do really well,” Wilton said.

Bachmann’s playing style is unique and shows a variety not often seen in most players.

“She has all the skills to play an all-court game,” Wilton said. “She isn’t afraid to come to the net, when a lot of players, both girls and boys, are.”

This playing style, combined with dedication, gives her an edge in the competition. One of her favorite aspects of the game, however, is the isolation of the player during a singles match.

“I like that, as opposed to other sports, you only have yourself to rely on,” Bachmann said. “You’re out there on your own and even though you have people playing on courts next to you and sometimes your coach, you have to really be in control of yourself mentally and make sure you’re giving 100 percent effort physically.”

For the No. 1 singles player, on court training is everything when preparing for a match. One of the focus points in her practices is endurance.

“Sometimes we have to play matches that go much longer than we expect them to,” Bachmann said. “You have to keep up physically with your opponent and so you have to train to make sure you’re not getting tired during the matches.”

Being a No. 1 singles player comes with high expectations but with prior captain experience and her determination, the position is almost natural for her.

“Julia brings a lot of skill to the team because she’s been playing so long and because she has a little bit more experience than all of us,” teammate Audrey Reus said. “She’s definitely in a leadership role and teaches us a lot from all of her experience with tennis.”

The varsity captain has high hopes for both herself and the team this season.

“We have a goal as a team to place third in conference and go to states,” Bachmann said. “I definitely want to pull my weight and do my part to make sure we get that placement but it’s a tough spot. I have to play some really good players so I want to place well going into regionals.”

To uphold her expectations, she will have to draw upon her experiences and skills to beat the top players. These experiences come from both losses and close wins. One of her good wins and valuable experiences was gained last season.

“I played a match last year against a girl who I had lost to before,” Bachmann said. “We had a three set, two plus hour match outside in horrible weather so I was really proud of myself for sticking with it and making her lose when I wasn’t expecting to win.”

Another memorable experience, though not quite as recent, was gained when she was eight years old and she beat Tom Izzo’s son in her very first tournament. Bachmann’s uncle is a huge MSU fan, she said, so he was very proud of her.

Since this is Bachmann’s last season with the team, she is looking forward to playing tennis in college and is looking at Calvin, Kalamazoo, and Aquinas. Even though college is in her immediate attention, she has also planned beyond high school.

“After college, tennis will probably become more of a social activity for me,” Bachmann said. “I will participate in local adult leagues to stay active. Tennis is a sport you can play for the rest of your life, so until I’m too old to move, you can find me on the court.”

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Tennis captain, Julia Bachmann, looks forward to a strong season