North Texas Daily

German-Ukrainian tennis duo impact program

German-Ukrainian tennis duo impact program

German-Ukrainian tennis duo impact program
March 31
00:04 2015

Saad Yousuf / Staff Writer

As the Mean Green tennis team wrapped up a 4-3 win at home against No. 75 University of Kansas, senior Kseniya Bardabush lost her singles match, the last match of the day, in three sets. She sat, dejected, on the bench. Fellow senior and doubles partner Franziska Sprinkmeyer was the first to approach her and provide words of encouragement.

Bardabush and Sprinkmeyer are the lone seniors on the team and have created a special bond. They have contrasting personalities, but on the tennis court, they work together better than most.

“We have a special relationship because we have been playing doubles together for three years,” Sprinkmeyer said. “We have really good chemistry on the court. Even if I don’t see her, I know what she’s going to do and we can rely on each other and trust each other.”

Head coach Sujay Lama said the two are not the typical senior college athletes, not because of their on-court play, but because of their everyday mindset and positive influence.

“A lot of times you have seniors who have checked out by now,” Lama said. “They’re thinking about graduation, but these two want to go on forever. When they have that kind of passion and love and desire to do this and play, it rubs off on the younger ones.”

Lama also said the duo brings something different to the table from their personalities and leadership.

“They contrast,” Lama said. “I call them the yin and the yang.”

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Senior Kseniya Bardabush winds up as the ball flies toward during a match against the University of Kansas at the Waranch Tennis Complex.

The coach said Bardabush is more likely to display her emotions and isn’t afraid to be vocal while he described Sprinkmeyer as a quieter person who serves as the big sister to the team and counterpart to Bardabush.

“I’ve never seen her check out of any match,” Lama said of Bardabush. “She’s intense. She’s got such a competitive spirit and fire. When she has her emotions rolling, it really gets our team pumped up.”

Though they do have differences, Bardabush and Sprinkmeyer are similar in many ways as well. For instance, neither grew up in the United States and both were convinced by Lama to bring their talents to North Texas.

“He came to Ukraine to see me,” Bardabush said. “He convinced me to come because of how he told me about the school and the team and all of the good experience I could get, so I decided to come.”

She said Lama was the tipping point that solidified her decision to come to North Texas.

“I had a few other options, a few other good schools but he definitely convinced me,” Bardabush said. “It’s just something about him.”

Bardabush grew up in Ukraine and described tennis as an early passion she found. Even as a child, her desire to win and contempt for losing is something that drove her.

“I’ve been like that since I was little,” she said. “I always hated to lose. I would cry when I was little. I always like fighting to land every point. I have the intensity for sure, and I can be loud at times too.”

The transition to the United States took a toll on Bardabush early on, she said.

“It was difficult my freshman year for sure,” she said. “Everything was different. Different people, different language, different food. Tennis-wise I was struggling my first year.”

Now, Bardabush sees her family two times a year and has adjusted to her new lifestyle.

“I’m planning on going to grad school,” Bardabush said. “My undergrad is in hospitality management but I want to do MBA, like business. I would like to work in the hotel industry or I might even consider being a tennis coach.”

Sprinkmeyer also has her hands full. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology in three years and started graduate school last semester along with an internship she attends every morning. In addition, she also has a job tutoring other athletes.

Sprinkmeyer grew up in Germany and had a very close bond to her family. She said prior to coming to North Texas, she had only been away from her family for one week. In fact, she had all but ruled out coming to the United States, until Lama convinced her otherwise.

“Before I had the offer from coach Lama, I had already said no to coming to the United States. My plan at the time was to go to Spain for a year and just play tennis for one year to enjoy life a little bit,” she said. “But then I met coach Lama and I felt it was a very good opportunity to combine tennis and education.”

Though they are close to ending their playing careers at North Texas, Bardabush and Sprinkmeyer want to leave a lasting impact on the program.

“We want to leave a winning legacy,” Bardabush said. “We’ve been a part of two championship teams so we know what it takes and we want to pass down our experience.”

CORRECTION: In the print edition of this story that ran on Tuesday, March 31, the headline read “German-Ukranian Tennis Duo Impact Program.” It should have read “German-Ukrainian Tennis Duo Impact Program.” The Daily regrets the error.

Featured Image: Senior Franziska Sprinkmeyer lunges and returns a hit by Kansas University player Rachel McNeely on March 27. Sprinkmeyer won her match against McNeely, 7-5, 7-6. Photos by T.R. Gonzalez – Staff Photographer

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