Berner brings competitive edge

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first_imgHannah Berner is used to change.Ever since moving from a tennis academy in Florida to a high school in New York, where she played on the boy’s tennis team, she has learned how to take on challenges with a competitive edge. This was on display last weekend at the Duke Invitational in Cary, N.C., where after losing her first set (6-0), she won in consecutive sets (6-2, 6-2) to win the match.Berner rallied and overpowered her opponent, Taylor Marable of Princeton, to earn the victory. She had Wisconsin’s best singles performance in the tournament, placing sixth in her section. But the sophomore’s impressive play was not limited to singles either. Berner and her partner Alaina Trgovich placed third in their doubles section.“One of the reasons that my coach, Brian Fleishman, recruited me was for my doubles play, because I love volleying against the net, although singles has always been a bit difficult for me,” Berner said.Berner has worked hard over the off-season at mastering the nuances and positioning of singles play, and now says that it’s just as strong as her doubles play. Fleishman, the head women’s tennis coach at UW, praised Burner’s performance“I thought she did an extremely good job in singles and doubles,” Fleishman said. “She’s come a long way, and I think all the hard work she put in this summer has really paid off.”Berner has more goals for herself than just playing well individually, as she wants to emerge as a leader for her team.“I think I’ve changed my position on the team, in terms of being more of a leader my sophomore year,” she said. “As a freshman, I was still a little confused and a little lost on how the whole team atmosphere works.”One of the more promising aspects of Berner’s game is her ability to settle in and evaluate her opponent’s style. Much of tennis involves understanding your opponent and playing against their weaknesses. To understand how Berner does this so well, a brief glimpse at her past may help.She played and excelled as a teenager at a tennis academy in Florida, where she attempted to go pro. However, she decided to leave Florida for New York, where she would play on the boy’s high school tennis team, because there was no girls team there.“When I was in Florida, I was playing tennis for six hours a day, and that became extremely intense for a 14, 15, 16 year old. I think I kind of lost a little bit of passion for the game,” Berner said.Berner said that her experiences have given her a greater perspective on balance in life. This perspective has enabled her to balance academics with collegiate athletics. “I cannot stress enough how much stress it is to keep up,” Berner said.It’s especially difficult, because she says that the UW women’s tennis team is one of the hardest working teams in the nation. And with four freshmen coming on to the team this year, fierce competition is in place just to get a spot playing in tournaments.Despite finishing ninth in the Big Ten last year, Berner believes that the new recruits and new attitude could make UW a top team in the conference.“I think that the new recruits could be what pushes us over, and we’re gonna try to be in the top four of the Big Ten. That’s our goal,” she said.last_img read more

COLUMN: Sports media shouldn’t just “stick to sports”

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first_imgFor anyone who knows me, there’s no question that I love sports. But there is a phrase — other than “the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” — that I absolutely abhor, whether it’s online or in person: “Stick to sports.”While sports journalism is my specialty, I consider myself a journalist first, as do many fellow sports media members that I follow on Twitter. But I see it all the time, when a “sportswriter” has the gall to tweet about politics or lifestyle or something other than sports: “Stick to sports.”It also applies to athletes. Whenever a famous athlete — like LeBron James or Stephen Curry — dares to venture opinions outside of their profession, they are met with a tirade from brave social media warriors: “Stick to sports.”It is not only incredibly naive, but also condescending and insulting, treating “us” — the collective sports world — like we aren’t qualified to discuss anything beyond sports.This is especially relevant in today’s charged political climate. As the nation grapples with a Donald Trump presidency, we’ve seen athletes use their platforms to make their opinions heard. We’ve seen sportswriters who usually don’t stray from their beat throw their hats into the political ring.Tim Kawakami, a long-time sports columnist for the San Jose Mercury News whom I grew up reading and fills my timeline with daily sports opinions and analysis, tweeted about Trump’s immigration ban last month.“My mother was born in America, but was put in an internment camp during World War II as a child, for no reason except fear & hatred,” he said.It was retweeted over 1,300 times, and showcased the broader point that just because our main domain is sports does not mean that we don’t have opinions or interests outside of sporting events.Unfortunately, it feels like we in the sports media too often surround ourselves in a sports bubble, trapped by the notion that we are specifically “sports” media, too afraid to venture into the real world. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to comment on social media about a breaking news story, only to think, “I’m a sportswriter. People follow me for sports reasons, so they’ll think it’s weird, and someone will probably tell me to stick to sports,” and hit the backspace button.Sure, covering sports is how we dip our feet into the media world. It’s part of our job description, it’s what we’re paid to do and why people read our articles. But to limit ourselves only perpetuates the “stick to sports” perspective — one that paints sportswriters as unable to opine about anything else but sports, oblivious to the world around them.However, the Trump administration is giving athletes — and sportswriters — the impetus to come out of their shells. “A sportswriter doesn’t have to ‘stick to sports’ if the athletes don’t,” Bryan Curtis, the editor-at-large at the Ringer, wrote last month.And athletes and coaches, thankfully, have not. In a trend that started last year with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem to protest race relations, prominent sports figures have felt emboldened by the current political climate. Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, two of the most respected coaches in the NBA, spoke out vehemently against Trump’s travel ban. LeBron James, the best basketball player in the world, called it “un-American.” Curry, the defending two-time MVP and face of Under Armour who usually avoids making controversial public statements, had the best line when asked about Under Armour chief executive Kevin Plank’s comment that Trump was a “real asset” to the country.“I agree with that description, if you remove the -et,’” Curry said to the Mercury News.Curry, who could be worth a reported $14.1 billion to Under Armour and is signed with them until 2024, went on to say that he wouldn’t have a problem with abandoning the brand if its platform wasn’t in line with his views.Such political statements from superstar athletes have opened a window for the sports media to write stories outside the traditional norm of sports, to speak more freely on social media and be more willing to question athletes on their non-sports views.Tom Brady, now considered the greatest quarterback of all time after another Super Bowl win, caught a lot of flak when a “Make America Great Again” hat was spotted in his locker last year. He was criticized even more when he brushed aside questions during Super Bowl media day regarding his support for Trump by saying he was a positive person who didn’t know what was going in the world and wasn’t paying attention to news events like the immigration ban or the women’s march (yes, actually).Ultimately, it’s up to the person. If Brady wants to keep his political opinions out of the media, he has the right to do so. And sportswriters shouldn’t necessarily feel compelled to voice their political stances when that’s not what they’re paid to do. Nonetheless, it is important that athletes and the media who cover them aren’t afraid to step out and use their platforms, especially at a time when political activism is spiking. And it’s just as important that people respect those opinions and not dismiss them as simply comments from a “dumb jock” or an “out-of-touch, multi-millionaire athlete.”I’ll leave you with what Martellus Bennett, one of five New England Patriots not-so-subtly skipping the team’s post-Super Bowl visit to the White House, tweeted about the labels placed on him.“When you look at me what do you see? I know you wanna ask me what sport I play. I mean what else could I possibly be besides an athlete,” Bennett said. “When you look at me see the father, the awesome dad, the author, film director, business owner, champion, friend, Hufflepuff beast.”Yes, athletes are committed to sports, as are those who write about them. But we can — and should — treat ourselves and, likewise, be treated as so much more. Never just “stick to sports.” Please, never do.Eric He is a sophomore studying print and digital journalism. He is also an associate managing editor for the Daily Trojan. His column, Grinding Gears, runs on Fridays.last_img read more