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Tennis star shows why she’s No. 1, loves the game

September 28, 2006

UW-River Falls senior and tennis player Becky Briese is a legend where she comes from.

In a town with a population of about 3,000 where hockey, not tennis, was big, Briese made herself a household name and tennis a game all the young girls wanted to play.

“It’s crazy getting so much support,” Briese said of her hometown fans. “It’s overwhelming.”

Growing up in Roseau, Minn., Briese played tennis and chose to come to UW-RF mainly for that reason. Her high school coach, Jack Swanson, had a son who attended school here and played tennis for the Falcons. The two of them recommended UW-RF and encouraged her to play tennis.

“I thought, hey, why not go to the cities and go to college and play tennis?” Briese said.
However, when Briese was in her junior year of high school, she thought her tennis career was over.

During that time, she said her team had no coach, and there were hardly enough players to have varsity and junior varsity teams.

Now, after Briese’s success, there are 30-40 girls out for the team each season. The girls who look up to Briese are also getting to play with her once in a while.

“I just go out and hit with them from time to time when I’m at home,” she said.
A few weeks back, the Roseau newspaper took an entire page and dedicated it to Briese and what she has accomplished in her tennis career. She said after the article was printed she was getting calls from many people back home.

“She’s an inspiration to young and those playing tennis,” tennis Head Coach Lee Lueck said.

Briese is busy outside of tennis too, working on an agricultural engineering major with an agricultural business minor. Before declaring her major and minor, she was undecided for two years. She also had two internships at Polaris in Roseau.

This season, Briese is the captain of a young Falcon tennis squad and is the only senior.
“We have a real young team,” Briese said. “I was nervous coming into the season and then I met all of them and they’re real full of life. They love the game.” 

“I have high hopes [for the team],” she said. “It takes experience and see us growing every match.”

Briese is looked to as a role model for all of her teammates.

“She is very optimistic,” sophomore Katie Anderson said. “Becky always has a positive attitude, and she expects a lot.”

Anderson said she also maintains that attitude in her daily life.

Even though she will not be competing with the Falcons after this season, Briese still believes the team will continue to do well.

“By the time they’re seniors they’re going to dominate as long as they keep the drive,” she said.

Lueck has worked with Briese for the past four years.

“She has steadily worked her way up,” Lueck said. “To watch her jell has been an absolute privilege. She is a role model. To have her has a captain has been a dream.”
The bond between coach and player is mutual.

“He’s the greatest guy,” Briese said. “He feels like a second dad to me here. He took me under his wing when he had no reason to.”

Although Lueck is around 60 years old, he has the energy of a 20-year-old, and he loves the game.

Briese said she believes Lueck and his assistant coaches have really helped her to improve as a player since she began here.

She said when she came to UW-RF she had no strokes, yet the only reason Lueck kept her around was the strength in her legs and determination for the game. Just four years later, she’s playing in the team’s No. 1 singles spot.

“I never imagined I could play like that,” she said.

Briese has to overcome adversity in her college athletic career.

Last year she was sick for most of the season and diagnosed with asthma.

In her down time Briese and her boyfriend Joe use the kayaks bought enjoy the water whenever possible.

She also likes to ice fish, hunt, shop and attend all the Falcon hockey games, since her boyfriend is on the men’s team.

Following her time at UW-RF, Briese wants to take 10 years to just see where life takes her before possibly moving back to Roseau.