Blaine Doeden keeps playing tennis — with SCSU's women's team
“So in a technical sense I am on the roster but I am not permitted to compete in any capacity. It is just a formality to allow me to attend practices and use their (tennis) facilities.”
ST. CLOUD — When Blaine Doeden was a student at Worthington High School, he was an excellent tennis player.
Doeden’s game features a strong serve and aggressive plays in rushing the net and hitting a drop shot.
Now as a senior at St. Cloud State University, Doeden found a unique opportunity to keep his love of tennis going.
The Huskies do not have a men’s tennis team, but they do have a women’s team. When Blaine met a member of the women’s team last spring the topic of tennis came up and Blaine was asked if he would be interested in hitting with the women’s team on an occasional basis for practice purposes.
“I love the sport of tennis so I readily agreed,” said Doeden. “Last fall before their season started I signed on as sort of a hitting partner for the practices that the girls team runs.”
One complication — in order to officially attend practice Doeden had to sign on as a rostered individual on the team.
“So in a technical sense I am on the roster but I am not permitted to compete in any capacity,” said Doeden. “It is just a formality to allow me to attend practices and use their (tennis) facilities.”
Blaine said the experience has been fun but it also has been mutually beneficial.
“I definitely would say that there have been improvements made to my game — having to play as hard as I do on a daily basis. They really push my limits,” said Doeden. “I have had a really great time with the women’s tennis team. I kind of dropped the sport of tennis when I started college just because finding a place to play collegiate tennis can be hard to find for some people.”
Doeden’s role on the tennis team can best be described as an on-call position. The SCSU women’s tennis team has seven members. When an odd number of players attend an evening's practice, Blaine gets a message from the coach hours in advance, asking if he can come and hit with the team. When an even number of tennis players are slated to practice in a day, Blaine is told he can stay home.
“It really depends on a weekly basis,” said Doeden. “It is typically two to three times a week, since their season has started and they practice four times a week. Back in the fall it was usually once, maybe twice.”
Blaine doesn’t have a set routine at practice, he is there to even numbers and practices both singles and doubles drills with the team. Blaine said that members of the team have thanked him for attending practice, as it has allowed them to get comfortable with similar players with his skillset.
“They mentioned that being able to adapt to a harder serve has helped in some of their matches,” said Doeden. “That girls that they face with a bigger serve are a lot easier to manage now because of the experience. … It has given them a more diverse ability to play against players that they might not normally face at practice.”
Doeden is in his senior year at SCSU and will be graduating this spring with a degree in biomedical science. Doeden said his plans post-graduation are to continue learning and become a physical therapist.
“I will sometimes make the joke that I am a DII athlete — which you know my friends roll their eyes about because I am not really a DII athlete and I don’t compete.” said Doeden. “Being able to hit on a consistent basis with this level of competition has been a really great and enjoyable experience that I have had this year. I have been very thankful for the opportunity that has kind of presented itself for me to re-dive into the sport.”