‘Every point is a fight’: Tennis’ Florentine Dekkers

Freshman Florentine Dekkers prepares to return the ball to Wichita State on March 27, 2022. (Kendall Spencer | Collegian Media Group)

From the food to the large buildings, several things are different between Holland and the United States, even in tennis. Compared to the quiet scene on the Dutch courts, college tennis players scream when given a chance. First-year student Florentine Dekkers quickly learns that “Here, every point is a match,” and adapts everything on and off the court as a tennis player in Kansas State.

Before his season in Manhattan, Dekkers had already begun to make a name for himself as a tennis player. She has been playing since she was five years old and has won two International Tennis Federation tournaments and ranked as high as No. 254 on the ITF’s junior rankings. Dekkers has for some time focused on his tennis career and put extra work into achieving his goals.

‘I still went to high school, but that was me [going to] a special school for student-athletes, like here, ”said Dekkers. “I tried to focus on myself and I practiced every day in strength training, private training and group training.”

Dekkers had already distinguished himself and had opportunities outside of collegiate play in the United States. Through the process of making a decision, she gained a better view from the help of her older sister, Utah State senior Gabrielle Dekkers.

“There are many factors as to why I chose to go to the United States, but one of the biggest factors was [that] my sister plays college [tennis]said Dekkers. “I could see how it went, her experiences, her stories. We have a very good relationship, so because of her stories I decided to go [to the United States]. “

In K-State – over 4,500 miles away from her home – Dekkers has had to adapt to a new place to live with different people. Immediately, her Wildcat teammates helped her adjust to life in the United States, as the entire team has been in her shoes.

“We’ve all been through the same process. We’re all international, so if you’re struggling with something, it’s typical,” Dekkers said. “We know what we’re going through so we can help each other and support each other.”

When Dekkers found his place in Manhattan, it was time to begin his collegiate tennis career. Dekkers quickly found out that life on the field is also changing from playing in the Netherlands.

Dekkers now has teammates cheering on her and playing with her. Plus, she plays in a points system that stops all matches when a team reaches four points.

“I played for myself and I was an individual, but now I play not only for myself but also for a team,” Dekkers said. “I think it’s a really big difference, but I definitely really like playing for the team.”

Finding out all the changes is only part of the journey for Dekkers. As Dekkers finds himself adapted to a new way of playing tennis, Dekkers keeps his focus on the court.

“There are so many things that can distract you from tennis. [I tell myself to] just focus on yourself, ”Dekkers said. “Of course it’s really important to have fun, but for me it’s really important to help my motivation and play for myself.”

Dekkers is motivated to continue to improve himself as a tennis player and improve his game. By keeping focus on that goal, she makes sure the right people are around her. Dekkers wants her experience to be positive.

“[I make sure] to surround [myself] with good people and that’s why I’m really happy to be here. I feel like this whole team has the same goal, “said Dekkers.” They want to play at the highest level, they want to win every game, but they also want to have fun. It helps a lot when you have seven girls with the same goal around you. All seven girls are amazing players and amazing girls. “

Dekkers has worked with the team through the winter to get better. From fall to spring, she has not only improved in her game, but also in her mentality.

“Compared to the fall and spring, I improved a lot thanks to the players and the coaches,” Dekkers said. ‘I think I became more consistent on the pitch. I make fewer mistakes and I know what to do more. “

Learning to hear the scream and even screaming on the court is only a small part of playing tennis, but it contributes to the mental aspect. At any given match, spectators can hear loud grunts and shouts from the athletes.

“The screaming part, the energy is new,” Dekkers said. “I think it’s firing me up and pushing me even more now. I never thought I would scream so much before I got here. I was a little nervous about it because I’m a quiet person, not off the field, “But when I came here, I felt so much energy and motivation, especially to play for the other girls.”

Dekkers is a baseline player who uses her height and power to attack her opponents specializing in her forehand. As a player who enjoys a fast-paced match, Dekkers has found himself against opponents with more experience and a different style of play.

“When I play against someone who just brings the ball back, I can do my own thing and try to play my own game,” Dekkers said. “A couple of games ago I played against girls who cut and played a higher ball. It’s sometimes hard for me, so I think I have to adjust a lot.”

Dekkers is grateful that she continued her tennis career past high school, even though she was in doubt at first.

“My biggest takeaway [from this year] is to go and convince a lot of people to play college tennis, ”said Dekkers. “I was not sure how to do it when I graduated from high school. I would really regret it if I did not go to college. Also to enjoy every moment on the court. You are in the United States as an international student, you are not used to everything. In four years I will be in Holland again, so I think I will enjoy every moment on the pitch and also off the pitch and have fun with the team and friends and enjoy it. ”

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