Danielle Behunin is the #1 seed on a Hudson Valley tennis team that is currently ranked 8th in the nation. She’s a returning player that is providing veteran leadership to a team that has four newcomers out of six members.
Last year she was named the tennis team’s MVP and earned all conference honors. This year is a little tougher. The competition she’s facing is a little more stiff because she plays in the team’s top spot, but Behunin as making the best of it.
“This year I got bumped up to the top spot so it’s a lot more competitive,” said Behunin. With only two returning players from last year combined with her success it was only a matter of time before Behunin played in the top seed.
“I like being the #1 seed because it challenges me more than last year,” said Behunin. In 2014 Danielle won most of her matches without too much difficulty. This year she’s getting better and working on different aspects of her game. “I’d rather be number one and improve my game because that is my goal: to improve my game.”
To help her improve her game, Behunin has the luxury of being coached by Denise Potenza. Potenza first came to the program in 2011. Since then she has let the team to two conference championships (2012 and 2013) and is fine tuning this team for another postseason run.
“She’s a friend to us. She’s so nice and also a great coach. She works with us individually to improve our weaknesses and use our strengths,” said Behunin about her coach.
As for the team it seems to be a tight knit group. The girls on the team are constantly helping each other out with their games and are also good friends off the court. “We all get along so well and we’re really good friends,” said Behunin, who has had the luxury of playing with someone she grew up with.
Anna Gerwin is the only other returning player on the tennis team and has known Behunin since they were in kindergarten. Both girls went to Catholic Central and played for the high school team there. Now playing on another team, both of them are bringing veteran leadership to a young team heading toward the regionals.
“I’m confident that the team as a whole is going to do well in regionals,” said Behunin. The regionals are this coming weekend at Adirondack on Saturday and Sunday. There, Behunin will be a #1 seed and will face the toughest players in the conference.
You would think that a number one seed in a regional tournament had been playing tennis most of their life. This is not the case with Behunin, who started playing as a sophomore in high school. When asked why she picked the game up she responded by saying, “My friends played the game so I decided try it.”
It hasn’t taken long for her to get ahead of the learning curve picking up the game fairly quick. In a matter of five years Behunin went from a beginner to being the top player on a collegiate team.
Behunin wants to play at the next level, but is unsure what school she wants to attend. Right now she’s an individual studies major and is interested in psychology and sociology. She’s giving BYU a look, but still hasn’t figured out what she wants to do for a career. Right now she’s more focused on this upcoming weekend and her team finding success. The tennis team is looking to capture their third conference championship in four years.