Tennis duo builds rapport

Seniors Jake Ohlhausen and Griffin Smith pose with their fraternity t-shirts and tennis racquets. Ohlhausen and Smith are 6-3 this season as doubles partners. Photo Credit: Trevor Stark, photo illustration

For two Truman State tennis players, their relationship stretches beyond being teammates.

Seniors Jake Ohlhausen and Griffin Smith said they have developed a strong bond on and off the court that adds a sense of brotherhood and chemistry to their game. Smith said the two have known each other since middle school, which has allowed them to build trust in each other from a young age.

“This is something that we feel is really special because most college doubles teams we face haven’t even been a team for the whole season,” Smith said. “We think that this gives us a huge advantage when it comes to chemistry — we rarely have a miscommunication on the court.”

With an overall season record of 6-3 in doubles, Ohlhausen said the two are an asset to each other on the court.

“I think our games make a great combo on the doubles court, and our track record proves it,” Smith said. “One example is that I am left-handed and Jake is right-handed, so in tennis that works really well because we can hide our weaker shots with the other’s strengths.”

With different strengths and weaknesses, the two seniors have many opportunities to balance each other out. Smith said he is stronger on the baseline and with serve-returns, while Ohlhausen has a better serve and is stronger at the net.

He said his backhand is his biggest weakness because it is not as technically sound as his other shots, so it gets picked on often. He said Smith is there for him on the court to help cover any mistakes he might make.

Smith said during middle school they were part of the same tennis club for a short period of time, but did not start to become great friends until coming to Truman and pairing up for doubles freshman year.

“On the court, Griffin and I have great chemistry — we’ve been playing doubles together since our freshman year,” Ohlhausen said. “We complement each other well since I’m more aggressive and he’s more patient.”

Smith said they work well together, staying competitive on the court no matter the match score.

The two seniors said they spend time The seniors said they spend time mentoring younger players and practice long hours to perfect their accuracy.

Ohlhausen said off the court, he and Smith spend a lot of time together. In addition to knowing each other through tennis, the two are Beta Theta Pi pledge brothers and have been roommates for the past two years, he said. Ohlhausen said most of their time together is spent playing other intramural sports, Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64 or Wednesday night trivia at Woody’s.

Assistant coach Steve Smith said Ohlhausen and Smith are a strong influence on the other players.

“This year’s team is led by [Ohlhausen and Smith],” Coach Smith said. “Both never stop competing on the court and both positively affect their teammates.”

Ohlhausen said he looks forward to the GLVC Championships April 17-19 in Kansas City, Missouri.

“[Smith] and I have proven ourselves as one of the top doubles teams in the conference,” Ohlhausen said. “[He] helps keep me consistent and I serve well and bring a lot of energy.”

With only eight more matches before the team takes on conferences, Ohlhausen said the men’s team will be busy preparing and practicing. The next match will take place at 1 p.m. March 7 against Northwest Missouri State University in Pershing Arena.