Growing up in Inzlingen, Germany, Moritz Baumann began playing tennis when he was five years old. Sixteen years later, the junior for the No. 43-ranked University of Wisconsin men’s tennis team (7-2) is enjoying a great amount of success.Last Sunday, Baumann and his sophomore doubles partner, Marek Michalicka, defeated the No. 1-ranked Wake Forest (5-4) doubles team of Cory Parr and Steven Forman at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. Ranked 18th heading into the match, Baumann and Michalicka defeated the Demon Deacons 8-4, despite being down 4-3 at one point, and improved their record together to an impressive 7-0.“It means that we’re up there, probably in the top 10 in doubles and that we can compete with every team out there,” Baumann said of the victory over Wake Forest. “It gives us a lot of confidence thinking about playing in the NCAAs for doubles.”While last weekend’s match was certainly difficult, Baumann is no stranger to challenges. Entering the country and arriving at the UW in January 2006, Baumann has had to adjust not only to tennis in America, but also to a foreign culture.“It was pretty tough for me to adapt to college tennis and the new culture here,” Baumann said. “Being from Germany, they obviously don’t speak the same language here. … The school, the language, getting used to everything was pretty tough.”While Baumann’s difficult beginning here is very understandable, his career has seen very few, if any, struggles. As a result of his tremendous play against Wake Forest, where he also improved his singles record to 9-0, Baumann earned his third weekly Big Ten award of 2009. Additionally, Baumann is ranked No. 36 in the nation in singles. While talent is obviously a large factor in his success, head tennis coach Greg Van Emburgh sees more in Baumann, especially in his doubles play.“They really complement each other really well, and they really just enjoy each other,” Van Emburgh said. “Obviously they’re great tennis players, but part of doubles is communication and enjoying playing with your teammate, so they really have that, and I think that’s a big part of their success.”Michalicka, the No. 60-ranked singles player in the nation, is also an international player from the Czech Republic, and he agrees that Baumann’s success is due to a large variety of factors.“He’s a great guy and a great friend; he’s very reliable, and he’s probably my best friend here,” Michalicka said of Baumann. “We’re both from Europe, so we understand each other well. Also, we are similar types of guys, so that helps a lot.”Not surprising considering the level of success he has already reached, Baumann has hopes of one day playing in the ATP World Tour. In Germany, he grew up watching the tour and followed tennis greats such as fellow German Boris Becker. However, Baumann says, he did not idolize any particular tennis players. Rather, his role models came from two sources outside of tennis: his father, and one of the most famous German athletes to play in America, NBA star Dirk Nowitzki. Van Emburgh recognizes the influence that growing up outside of the country has had on both Baumann and Michalicka.“It helps them as a team,” Van Emburgh said. “They have some similarities, being both from Europe. I think that definitely helps them.”Coming up, the Badgers will host North Carolina State and Notre Dame this weekend at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. With the Big Ten Tournament less than two months away, the team is already looking forward to see how far they can go.“You don’t ever really want to speculate,” Van Emburgh said. “Obviously they beat the number one team in the country, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s how they play on that particularly day, they can play with anybody in the country and obviously have a great chance at winning the match.”Baumann, however, is still enjoying the season as it progresses.“It’s been a great experience so far; I think I’ve improved my game, got a lot of confidence over the last couple of weeks,” Baumann said of his experience this season. “I won all my single matches, and with Marek, we won all of our doubles matches. I feel really good about myself and it gives me a lot of motivation to keep working harder.”Clearly, Baumann has exceeded every expectation that faced him since coming here three years ago. He is enjoying both his past successes and his success so far this season, while also looking forward to a potential professional career after he graduates. Despite this forward-thinking mindset, however, Baumann is not about to forget what he went through to get to where he is now.“I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and about life, and it’s always good seeing other countries and other cultures,” Baumann said of his transition from Germany to Wisconsin. “It’s really helped me a lot, all these experiences.”Baumann has a very good chance to compete at the NCAA tournament in doubles with Michalicka, and also might have an opportunity to compete in singles as well. Having these chances not only provides more opportunities for success, but also allows Baumann to add to the already long list of experiences he has had since leaving Germany for the U.S. The crowning achievement on that list, however, may very well not come until he is long gone from the University of Wisconsin: a chance to win a championship on the ATP World Tour.
A whiteboard in the locker room tracks the wins for each side. Despite being outnumbered 12-11, the defense and goalies currently hold the season series lead, 7-4. Costales described them as “cocky,” but blueliner Megan Quinn prefers to be called “just better.”Maybe the defense and goalies hold the lead because the team boasts the two players most frequently credited as the entire hockey team’s best: Derrer and Abbey Miller.Both players possess a softball background, Miller as a catcher and outfielder while Derrer played shortstop. The defender even considered college softball locally at Michigan State or Central Michigan.“Abbey Miller and Dak have the strongest arms on that team,” Costales said. “They whip people’s heads off.”The strength comes from some atypical training. Over the summer, Miller coached at a summer hockey camp and led off-ice training, where she somehow found herself playing dodgeball daily.“I would go pretty hard against, like, 10 year olds,” Miller said.To avoid the ringers, forwards occasionally take cover behind a refrigerator on their end of the locker room. The opposition may yell at them for hiding, but at least it provides protection. The defense itself uses tactics considered ethically ambiguous. A door sits propped open on their end that balls occasionally soar through, and then the forwards shout back.Derrer alone has hit two players — senior forwards Heather Schwarz and Jessica Sibley — in the face before games. Once, such a hit swelled one of Sibley’s eyes shut prior to the game. The team worried one of its captains wouldn’t be on the ice in time, but the swelling subsided just before the puck dropped. To date, no one has missed any time for the Orange because of dodgeball.“It’s all fun and games,” Derrer said.Even errant throws create hazards for players as sometimes skates fall from the tops of lockers. But the threat of injury deters no one. The players agree that dodgeball is a fun and unique pregame preparation. The balance of healthy adrenaline and danger helps hone a winning mindset.“It gets pretty rowdy,” Derrer said. “Sometimes coach can tell when we’re really pumped before a game when there is a big dodgeball game in there.“It carries on to the ice sometimes.” Comments Published on February 14, 2017 at 10:00 pm Contact Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org | @A_E_Graham the boys are rolling to Buffalo for the CHA semi finals!! #ppw #chemistry #WEARE pic.twitter.com/knlIxpP5IT— alysha burriss (@beebopburr) March 3, 2016 Paul Flanagan struggled to focus on the recruit and parent in front of him. He couldn’t figure out the origin of that loud noise emanating from his team’s locker room.Over the years, pregame volume usually stemmed from an unusual tradition on his squad, one that no one truly knows the origins of and that also often leaves team pictures askew. But that thought didn’t enter his head then. He was only thinking one thing.“What the hell is all that noise?”Dodgeball has been a mainstay for Syracuse (11-12-5, 10-4-2 College Hockey America) in preparing to take the ice at Tennity. The team plays the gym class classic before every home game. Even though it causes the occasional minor injury, Flanagan pays no mind to it and players say it helps them get fired up and focused.“It is really, really aggressive,” junior forward Emily Costales said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe pregame ritual has happened at every Tennity home game for as long as any player can remember. Best the head coach can recall, and he’s been here all nine years of the program’s existence, it started in the team’s second or third year. But he can’t be sure.The odd tradition stuck out to now-junior defender Dakota Derrer on her official visit to Syracuse three years ago. The team played before its game as the recruit watched. All she could think was, “What’s going on?”She saw forwards on one end of the locker room and goalies and defense on the other. A line of squishy, rubber balls lay between them, on and around the sacred “S” in the middle of the locker room. Stepping on that “S” incurs a $5 fine.Games usually last between five and seven minutes and are accompanied by music like “Broccoli” by D.R.A.M. Hurling a foam sphere at your teammates, Costales said, amps up the team, engages a competitive mindset and creates important pre-game “sparks.” Facebook Twitter Google+