An uncommon duo

Blugold men’s tennis doubles team mixes competitiveness, leadership and teamwork onto one court


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Hoffman and Dahl compete at No. 1 doubles for the Blugolds, and have continued to grow as a duo on the court despite Dahl only being a freshman.

Nearly four years ago Kyle Hoffman and Andrew Dahl met one another for the first time at a UW-Whitewater tennis camp, where they decided to pair up for a doubles tournament on one of the final days.

Now, after wrapping up their junior and freshman seasons respectively, the doubles partners said they are ready to continue to grow and help lead the young Blugolds to new heights.

Hoffman, who played No. 1 doubles with Dahl for the Blugolds the entire year, said the two were lucky to have the opportunity to play on the same team again after working well together years ago.

“We played at the camp against some older guys in a tournament and did really well,” Hoffman said. “We blended well together then and continue to now, which is something you don’t see all too often.”

Dahl however, remembered something different when he and Hoffman met for the first time on the courts in Whitewater.

“For some reason, I remembered how (Kyle) had a big head at the camp that day because of some sort of allergic reaction,” Dahl said chuckling. “But honestly Kyle was just so easy going from day one which made him an easy guy to work with on the court then and now.”

When Dahl first got to campus and began practicing with his new team, Hoffman had been looking for a new doubles partner. After getting re-acquainted with Dahl, he knew they could make a good team again.

He said he and fellow captain junior Jordon Stevens made it a goal coming into the season to not have a hierarchy with all of the upperclassmen and leave the underclassmen behind without guidance.

“We wanted to gain the respect of the younger guys early on,” he said. “Everyone is seen as equal on the team no matter what age, which allows us to all work together better as a whole.”

Hoffman and Dahl went 14-10 at the top spot in doubles competition through the fall and spring seasons, facing many tough athletes including the No. 14 ranked team in the nation who they upset 8-6.

Dahl said the two had some ups and downs early on as he went through the freshman growing pains. However Hoffman’s competitive edge pushed Dahl through every practice and match, Dahl said.

Head coach Tom Gillman — who has worked with Hoffman over the past three seasons and recruited Dahl — said the two make a good doubles team not only because of their skill sets, but because of how they act.

“The two work well because they are comfortable together and their personalities mesh well on the court,” he said. “Kyle has this competitive edge and is always talking on the court, while Andrew has the fun-loving personality to keep the two level-headed and relaxed.”

However, the two are more than just hard workers and mentally strong, Dahl said they both have strong physical skill sets that set them apart from many other doubles teams in the area.

“We both came in having doubles experience in high school which not many do,” Dahl said. “But really, we are just lucky that Kyle and I are both tall which allows us to get to the net before our opponents and return volleys that some may not be able too.”

Despite the team’s success on the court and growth during the long season, Gillman said Hoffman’s work as a captain to lead a team with only two upperclassmen has been huge.

The 2014-15 Blugolds carry a total of two freshmen and five sophomores, making them one of the youngest teams in the WIAC.

“Kyle goes a long way in his leadership by simply just being passionate about the sport,” Gillman said. “He loves working with this group of guys and just sets a good example for them with his competitiveness not only in matches, but in practice.”

As the Blugolds reflect on what was another solid season going 17-7, Hoffman said he and Dahl both expect to be great next year especially now that Dahl has a year of experience under his belt.

“We can really be great, I can definitely see us being a ranked team in the Midwest next fall,” he said. “Andrew makes me better as much as I make him better and I know next year we can do some good things.”