Thursday's Conversation With Utah State's Dennis Baumgartner
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome to Thursday’s Conversation. Each week, one Mountain West student-athlete will be featured by answering a series of questions.
Joining the conversation this week is Utah State’s Dennis Baumgartner. The sophomore is a member of the Aggies’ men’s tennis team. The Rheinfelden, Germany, native opened the 2014-15 season playing No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles with teammate Marcus Fritz.
Baumgartner earned a critical point in Utah State’s season-opening match with in-state rival BYU, taking his No. 3 singles match in straight sets over Jacob Sullivan, 6-3, 6-4. The Aggies would go on to defeat the Cougars for the first-time in school history, 4-3 on Jan. 10. It is the first time since the 2006-07 season that Utah State has opened the season with a dual victory.
Question: The Aggies defeated BYU for the first time in school history. What does that win mean for the program?
Answer: It means a lot to us because we put in a lot of hard work. It’s what we worked for all fall. They are a big rival and winning against them for the first time was a great feeling. It’s nice to see that all that hard work pays off in the end.
Q: You won your No. 3 singles match and also won at doubles against BYU. Do you have any specific goals for this season?
A: Yes, I do. I want my team to win, of course. I want to be ranked this year, especially in doubles because I’m playing with (Marcus) Fritz and he’s a senior and has never had a chance to be ranked and that’s why I’m playing doubles with him. We played together the second half of last season and now, we have a really good feel for what the other is going to do on the court. Individually, I just keep working and know that the results will come.
Q: Leaving your home country of Germany to attend school in the United States, was that a difficult decision?
A: I didn’t really think about it. A lot of my friends were doing the same thing. American colleges offer a chance to combine sports and school. Back home you have to choose because it’s only club sports so you have to choose to either go to school or play professionally. I was always looking forward to coming (to America) and think it was right decision. It is tough being away from home and all that stuff but in the end you get used to it.
Q: Who taught you how to play tennis and at what age did you start playing the sport?
A: I was six when I first started playing. I come from a tennis family. My dad and mom were both really good and I was kind of born into it. They were my first coaches. We played every day on the court and once I got older, I wanted to compete and show what I got. I have a younger brother that also plays tennis and soccer.
Q: What do you like most about America?
A: I like the people a lot. Everyone is very open-minded and really nice and everyone here really helped me out, especially my first few months in America. They were all super-nice and made the transition easy for me.
Do you have a student-athlete you’d like to see featured in an upcoming Thursday's Conversation? Contact Dan Johnson at djohnson@TheMW.com