Ronkowski swings weekly honors

Grand Forks native brings talent to UND tennis team, posts win last weekend

UND tennis player Callie Ronkowski has led North Dakota in its recent four-game winning streak, most recently paving the way against Idaho State and Nebraska-Omaha as she went undefeated on the weekend.

Her efforts earned her Big Sky Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.

“We’re kind of on a good roll right now,” Ronkowski said. “At the beginning of the season, we played some tougher opponents that we had a harder time against. I think that was good for us just to get kind of a benchmark — and especially with so many freshmen, it gave us an idea of how well we’re going to have to play.

“So the past few matches we’ve been winning and I think we’re going in the right direction for sure.”

The UND junior first earned Player of the Week honors Feb. 11 after a successful weekend against Northern Iowa, Creighton and Western Illinois. Her most recent victories put her at 6-3 for matches this season, the last six of which she has won.

On top of her singles victories, Ronkowski has won two of three conference doubles matches, the most recent of which was with UND No. 1 Stephanie Petsis against Nebraska-Omaha’s No. 1 team of Alex Tran and Jacqueline Baude.

“We’ve beat a lot of big teams out there,” Petsis said. “(Ronkowski) is really good at the net, so I usually serve first and then she puts away all the balls at the net, and she’s really competitive up there, it makes for a competitive team.”

Ronkowski, a Grand Forks native, says she enjoys the chance to team up with a UND partner.

“I used to be pretty much primarily a singles player, but I think after coming and playing college tennis I’ve gotten so I like both of them equal,” she said. “They’re totally different so it’s really fun to be able to play both.

“I’ve always liked playing an individual sport because you’re the only one out there, which can get really frustrating but it’s also that much more exhilarating and … junior tennis is kind of all individual. You have no team, you’re always just alone. But it’s been nice to come play college tennis where you’re still playing individually, but it all comes in for the team score in the end.”

Ronkowski and Petsis set the tone for UND with their victory Saturday at Choice Health and Fitness in Grand Forks.

Although they were the only doubles team to get a win for North Dakota, UND was successful in singles as it won five of six matches for an overall victory.

The win improved North Dakota to a 4-5 overall record and put it in the No. 2 spot in Big Sky Conference standings, just one match below Northern Colorado.

“This year we’ve been working on being able to play with anyone as far as doubles goes so that we can change partners on any given day,” Ronkowski said. “I’ve actually played from the beginning of the year all with a different girl on the team, so our last match was the first match I’ve played with Steph this year.”

While the transition was smooth, Ronkowski said she enjoys a routine.

“Everybody’s different,” she said. “For me I kind of like to play with one person just because the longer you play with somebody the better you get, just your chemistry and stuff like that. I think we’ve done a pretty good job this year of being able to adjust to playing with everybody on our team.”

The Green and White continue their season Monday when they host No. 7 Eastern Washington at noon.

“My mentality is win every match that we have, so I think that’s the only way you can really go into it,” Ronkowski said. “As a team though our goal is to make it to the conference tournament — we’ve missed out on it the last few years, so that’s been kind of the focus and what centers everything for us.”

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].