Stephanie Dudzinski powers a backhand in a Friday match. Jennifer Huang plays on Saturday (above). Photos:Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern
By Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern
There are numerous fashion choices to be made before traveling to this tournament: Did you pack your club team t-shirt? Are you head-to-toe in the school colors? Did you have the appropriate long pants for the chilly mornings?
Two students who have come through the Vanderbilt med school had to sort through their histories before coming to Auburn, Ala. That’s because they have more royal blue from their days at Duke than the black and gold of Vandy.
Stephanie Dudzinski’s and Jennifer Huang’s loyalties were divided between their four years playing for Duke as undergrads and their recent transformation as Vanderbilt students. Stephanie is in ther third year in the school's Medical Scientist Training Program while Jennifer has moved into her third year in med school.
The duo enjoyed a Tennis On Campus career at Duke that few experience: 2011 Southern champions, 2009 Badger Classic winners, seventh in nationals, 2012 TOC National Fall Invitational champs (runner-up the year before) and the victor in four other tournaments. They played all four undergraduate years and made their club teammates the core of their social life.
“It was the highlight of my undergrad years,” Stephanie declared. “It was the best thing in college,” Jennifer chimed in.
“It was a great stress reliever. We had a lot of fun playing competitive tennis,” Stephanie explained. “It was the core of our social life. … We practiced every day.” Stephanie was named 2012 USTA Southern Tennis On Campus Leader of the Year. But, she called her doubles partner her “co-president.”
After four years majoring in bio-related fields, both had medical school on their mind. Jennifer said she honed in on Vanderbilt at about the same time Stephanie was looking.
Jennifer had a gleam in her eye when she remembered, “It was between Vandy and some other school in the state about nine miles away.” However, she decided against the University of North Carolina.
“We decided that we were going to make the decision independently,” Jennifer said.
But, once Stephanie committed, she said, “I was hoping Jennifer would go there, too.”
Three years ago neither of the players went out for the Vanderbilt club team, citing the rigors of advanced degree study. In the interim they played USTA League adult teams, competing against many of the players they had faced in the network of USTA junior tournaments before college.
Adult tennis continued to fuel their taste for team competition. So, it was back to TOC this year.
“The format make the matches exciting. It’s so fast-paced. Every point matters,” according to Jennifer. “The team is so important. I like the combined mixed team of men and women.”
With her experience as team leader, Stephanie praised Jay Schuffenhauer, the presiding president. “Jay is a great president. The team really enjoys each other and they hang out more than we did after practices. There’s more energy and a lot of fun.”
For this tournament, Stepanie brought a Vandy jacket and other apparel to show some black and gold love. Jennifer wore a Vandy t-shirt to go with her medical school's jacket.
Seems like TOC is twice as fun the second time around.