BOZEMAN – A few weeks ago, Montana State tennis players Daan Van Dijk and Matej Panik qualified as a doubles team for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Championships in San Diego which begins on Thursday.
They are the first double-handed Bobcat team to accomplish this in almost 20 years.
âWe’re preparing like it’s just another tournament,â said sophomore Panik. âWe don’t see it as the biggest tournament or anything. We’re going there to win as many matches as possible and hopefully bring home a trophy. “
Being roommates and twins in the field, they became close in no time. Panik makes delicious banana and cinnamon pancakes for the couple on Sunday. While playing, they balance each other out. Panik is from the Czech Republic and Van Dijk is from the Netherlands.
“He’s the hardest worker on the team,” Van Dijk said of Panik. âIt’s going to serve every morning at 6 am when we don’t have to. He’s really engaged and really focused. That’s the best way to describe it, I think.
âDaan is very easy going,â said Panik. âIt’s very easy to get along with him. We have excellent chemistry. He’s a very nice guy. Like he said, I’m pretty intense on the pitch, but it’s both good and bad. If things go wrong, he’s always there for me, trying to cheer me up.
The two are playing in their first fall season with Montana State. Their success was unexpected, even for them.
âFor me, it’s huge. I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s just the start, âsaid Panik.
Most of the Bobcats’ roster come from overseas, and both players said it helped their transition to the United States.
âTo have such an international team – I think it really helps because like you said they all went through the same thing. They really help me a lot, âsaid Van Dijk.
âThey can help you with anything on the pitch, off the pitch with your feelings and everything – that’s just great,â said Panik.
The two are delighted that they have qualified for this tournament and that they are helping to reverse the Bobcats’ schedule.
âWe really hope to make a name for ourselves for MSU tennis and with that there will be more interest for other guys to come here and play for MSU. We hope our coach started building something two years ago and it’s only going up. We hope we can be a part of that and continue to build, âsaid Panik.