Feb. 22, 2001
By Bri Niemi
There are some things that just baffle the mind. History is filled with unsolved mysteries and inexplicable events that have changed the way we perceive the otherwise ordinary incidents of life. For devout Husky tennis fans, there is a story that is just as puzzling, if not more so, than the Bermuda Triangle or random sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.
There once was a time when Jeremy Berman was not good at tennis.
"I was actually pretty bad," says the senior from Kirkland, Wash. "When I first started playing, I wasn't good. In fact, I was ranked dead last in the Pacific Northwest in 12-and unders. But I always loved it, even though I lost almost every match. I loved the atmosphere of the tournaments and the camaraderie between the players. That is what kept me playing."
Berman first started to play the game as an eight-year old, after being introduced to tennis by his best friend Bobi Rey, now a professional snowboarder.
"My mom kept forcing me to go to this day camp every summer that I just hated," says Berman. "My best friend was playing tennis every day at a rec center two blocks from our house and I kept begging my mom to let me hang out with him. She finally gave in."
Lucky for the University of Washington, Claudia Berman relented and Jeremy kept with tennis throughout his schooling. Not heavily recruited out of high school, Berman opted to cross the lake and become a Husky.
"My decision to come here was based mostly on coach Anger," remembers Berman. "He was the new coach and I realized that he would be able to do great things for the program and for myself. I knew that if I ever wanted to pursue a career in tennis I would improve the most under his help and guidance, and I feel like I have. I don't think there is anyone else out there that could have taken my game to the level that it's at right now."
For someone who claims that his skills weren't that impressive as a kid, things sure have changed. Coming into the season, Berman was ranked eighth on UW's all-time list for singles wins in a career. With five games under his belt thus far in the season, he has already moved up to fifth place with 69 wins.
"When I first got here, my goal was to be a contributor at some point in my career," Berman says. "I didn't think that it was going to be anything like it has turned out to be."
While Berman has become known for his ability to keep his opponents on the court, out-lasting them into the third set, he also stands out because of his diminutive stature.
"I think me being only 5-foot-5 is an advantage," says Berman with a smile. "A lot of people would look at me and think that it is a disadvantage, but it has driven me to work harder. I don't have a big serve like some of the taller players, so I have to work harder to get points. It has forced me to develop a strong work habit because I know that in order to succeed I have to work harder than the bigger guys."
The work ethic is something that has been passed down throughout the Berman family. Jeremy gives credit to his parents for the support they have given him since he first picked up a racket.
"My parents have never pushed me in anything," he says. "They basically tell us kids that whatever we want to do, we should do. They were there to drive me and support me and I think that another reason why I am so happy that I chose this school, is because it gave me a chance to form a closer relationship with my parents."
As Berman begins his last year of collegiate tennis, he hopes to lead the team back to Georgia for the NCAA Championships this May.
"We are right there with every team in the country," Berman says. "We want to get back to the NCAAs. We know what it is like and we want that feeling."
With Jeremy Berman on their side, the Huskies should have no trouble turning the once mind-boggling into the routine.