Senior tennis players Jenny Paxton and Amanda Drangeid have played tennis together on the same team for eight years. No, they haven’t found a way around the NCAA’s four-year eligibility rule. The high school teammates simply decided to follow each other to UW-River Falls to continue their tennis careers.
Now, the two Bloomington Jefferson (Minnesota) High School graduates have been paired up again, this time to be UWRF’s top doubles tandem heading into the spring season.
“It’s kind of funny how it all worked out. We didn’t plan on it, it just happened,” Paxton said.
But it happened to work out for the Falcons’ favor. Both Paxton and Drangeid agreed that knowing each other’s playing styles and tendencies helps to give them a competitive edge.
“Since we already know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we know how to work well together. We’re already used to playing with each other, so we can focus on improving our tennis game instead of working on understanding how to play together. It’s also great because we’re such great friends and I just love playing with her,” Drangeid said.
During the fall season, Drangeid compiled a 4-7 overall record in doubles play while Paxton was 4-6, according to the UWRF Athletics website. Head Coach Paul Mitchell, who is in his second and final year as head coach for the Falcons, said the duo brings more than their tennis skills to the team. Mitchell will be the head coach at UW-Stout next fall.
“Jenny and Amanda are great leaders on our team and their presence will be missed next fall. As our top two players on the team, they obviously brought a lot of talent on the court, both in competitions and as leading examples at practices. Even above their skills, though, was the positive attitudes they brought on the court. Jenny and Amanda were two players that I could always count on to give 100 percent effort no matter what we were doing,” Mitchell said.
If it wasn’t for their height and hair color differences (Paxton is blonde and 5’7” while Drangeid has brown hair and is 5’2”), one might think that because of their backgrounds and love for tennis, the pair could be twins.
Both Paxton and Drangeid are also elementary education majors, and have been named to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Scholastic Honor Roll three times, making the pair more similar than they first appear. Both women are also student teaching this spring, although at different schools.
The seniors will be competing in their final five matches of their tennis careers this spring, starting with an away match at St. Norbert on April 7.
During the fall campaign, the tennis team complied a 4-8 overall record and a 2-4 record in the WIAC, placing them sixth in the conference.
For this spring season, Mitchell said he is looking for more experience from his young team. Currently, there are four seniors, including Paxton and Drangeid, two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen on the roster.
“I’m hoping to see a lot from (freshman) Kelsey Hochberger. She really started developing last fall as a good singles player in our conference. Hopefully she’ll get some good results as she moves up in our line-up. Also, our doubles team of Makayla Newberry (sophomore) and Hannah Klimek (sophomore) had great results last fall. This spring they’ll be playing higher in our line-up, and they’ll prove to be an important key to our results,” Mitchell said.
Newberry and Klimek were both 4-7 in doubles play last fall.
But with Paxton and Drangeid leading the way, it could spell double trouble for opponents this spring.