In the Spotlight: Bram ten Berge, Ole Miss & Blake Strode, Arkansas

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In_The_Spotlight_Logo_150 ITA: In the Spotlight highlights two outstanding players who have been recognized for their academic achievements throughout their college career, Bram ten Berge of Ole Miss & Blake Strode of Arkansas.  Each of them have been recognized for their superior character and leadership as well as the positive influences in athletics that have possessed both personal and intellectual development.

Bram ten Berge is a senior at the University of Mississippi.  His hometown is Maarssen, Netherlands and he is currently ranked No. 2 in men's doubles with partner Jonas Berg in the Campbell/ITA National College Rankings.  Bram ten Berge was awarded the 2008-09 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award.  (More

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
My immediate plan is to enter graduate school in 2009.  I am considering sticking to Classics and perhaps becoming a professor.  I am not exactly sure of my future plans after school, but I am thinking about getting my PhD.  From there, I will see what happens, but there are many opportunities in this country.  I am sure though that I will always be involved in tennis in some way.

What is your most memorable tennis experience?
There are several moments during my college career that I particularly savor.  One of them was the NCAA Elite Eight match we played against Georgia in College Station in 2005.  We won the doubles point in dramatic fashion, winning a deciding tiebreaker 14-12.  During the singles, I was the lucky one to clinch the victory for the team, coming back from a 1-5 deficit in the third set.  Being a freshman made it all that much bigger.  This season we have had many memorable matches already, such as the ones against Georgia and Tennessee at home.  We had unbelievable crowds and the atmosphere was great.

How has college tennis challenged you as an athlete?
The beauty of playing college tennis is that it is both individual and team based.  The challenge is not only to make yourself a better tennis player but also to make your team better.  Being a good college athlete therefore requires a certain degree of unselfishness and care for your team's interest.  That is the biggest challenge, to try to improve as a tennis player without forgetting whom you are actually playing for.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

What's the best thing about playing for your university's team (Ole Miss)?
There are several things, which make it a pleasure to play for Ole Miss.  First, our team chemistry is very good.  Second, we have two very experienced coaches, who challenge us everyday to be the best that we can be.  Third, we have an exceptional fan base.  It is so much fun to play in front of them and to get support while competing.

Blake Strode is a senior at the University of Arkansas.  His hometown is St. Louis, Missouri.  He is currently ranked No. 13 in the Campbell/ITA National College Tennis Men's Singles Rankings.  Strode was selected as one of the six finalist for the annual NCAA Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship.  (More)

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
Ten years seems so far down the road that it is difficult to imagine what I will be doing.  Ideally, I would like to be practicing law somewhere and still playing tennis whenever I get the chance.

What is your most memorable tennis experience?
I have had so many great tennis experiences, but it is hard to beat the feeling of clinching a match for your team.  During my junior year, I won a long singles match to clinch a 4-3 win over one our SEC opponents.  I remember my teammates running out onto the court in celebration and almost knocking me over.  It was a really great moment.

How has college tennis challenged you as an athlete?
College tennis has challenged me because it has made me accountable not only to myself, but also to my team.  There is a unique pressure associated with being part of a team, and facing that pressure has made me a stronger athlete.  College tennis has also challenged me to become a more consistent performer, since the level of competition is very high match after match.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I really love Mexican food, and I think I could probably eat it every day.  (And maybe have a little Italian or Thai food every now and then.)

What's the best thing about playing for your university's team (Arkansas)?
It has been an incredible experience to play as a Razorback.  I think the best part of playing at Arkansas is the incredible fan support.  I may be biased, but I think we have the most spirited fans anywhere!
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