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Kaiserslautern’s Abigail Hover, left, and Stella Schmitz smile after winning the girls doubles title at the DODEA-Europe tennis championships Saturday, Oct. 21, 2021. Schmitz is the No. 1 girls seed at this year’s tournament open and Hover is part of the third-ranked doubles team.

Kaiserslautern’s Abigail Hover, left, and Stella Schmitz smile after winning the girls doubles title at the DODEA-Europe tennis championships Saturday, Oct. 21, 2021. Schmitz is the No. 1 girls seed at this year’s tournament open and Hover is part of the third-ranked doubles team. (David Edge/Stars and Stripes)

The 2022 DODEA European tennis championships will mark more than the reuniting of the northern and southern schools in Wiesbaden, Germany.

As 60 athletes converge on the T2 Sports Health Club on Thursday through Saturday, they also will notice a change in the team championships. In that there are multiple ones.

Unlike in years past, the boys and girls team crowns will be separate, which seems to excite the coaches.

“I see the change as a breath of fresh air,” Kaiserslautern coach Katina Campbell said. “The girls have always been motivated. This is just the first year the girls will have a title of their own! I am really excited to see the girls earn titles for their school and team.”

With the top seed in the singles tournament and the third seed in the doubles bracket, Campbell has plenty of reasons for the optimism.

The team winners are selected based off points from pool play to final placement. Players get a point per win over the first four matches, and the top two out of each pool advance to the semifinals. Then, fourth place gets two points; third, two; second, six; and the winner gets eight.

One of the heavy favorites to grab an individual crown is Kaiserslautern’s Stella Schmitz, the No. 1 seed. Schmitz picked up right where her sister Aiva, last year’s singles champion, left off. She only has dropped two games this season, both in a match against Ramstein’s Kassianna von Eiken, the No. 2 seed who finished third as a freshman three years ago.

Schmitz said she knows she’s got a target on her back.

“Of course, it makes it a little more mentally difficult, but I’ve been in situations like this before,” Schmitz said. “So, I feel like I will be able to handle it pretty well.”

Schmitz handled that pressure last season with Abby Hover, as the duo won the doubles title. Hover this year enters the tournament as the third seed with Alisa Dietzel behind Stuttgart’s Devin French and Kiera French and Vicenza’s Addie Wilson and Annika Svenson. Hover and Dietzel got the seed despite playing together in only two matches, one of which was a win over No. 7 seeds Elizabeth Petrich and Madison Beedham of Lakenheath.

Just like not many have seen the Hover-Dietzel partnership, many other players enter with an air of mystery, as players from Italy, Spain and Bahrain will make the trip.

“There’s a lot of teams that we haven’t played this year because of rainouts and you got the international teams,” Hover said. “It will be awesome that all the teams can come this year because COVID won’t be really affecting us this year.”

One player who isn’t a mystery is Ramstein’s Tristan Chandler, the defending boys singles champion and the No. 1 seed. Chandler, who transferred from Kaiserslautern, is undefeated on the season.

“Because of how strong his play has been, we’ve been able to work on strategies on the courts against specific opponents,” Ramstein coach Alfredo Rios said. “It’s been something that’s been pretty fun, but he is zoned in right now.”

His biggest challengers are seen as second-seeded Leonardo Proietti of Marymount and his former teammate and No. 3 seed Kaiserslautern senior Alexander Brunk. Brunk won the doubles title last season with Micah San Pedro.

Brunk said he won’t let any lingering camaraderie get in the way against Chandler – or anyone else – on the courts should they meet.

“I really try to see every opponent as giving the same amount of energy no matter who I’m playing against, not taking into account I have prior relations with anyone or playing against anyone different just because of who they are,” Brunk said.

Ramstein is hoping to ride Chandler and a performance from brothers Eric and Sean Kim, who have the No. 3 seed in the doubles tournament, to collect the boys team title.

“We have a strong chance to compete for that championship as a team,” Rios said.

DODEA-Europe championship seeding

(Thursday-Saturday)

Boys

Singles

1. Tristan Chandler (Ramstein), 2. Leonardo Proietti (Marymount), Alexander Brunk (Kaiserslautern), 4. Beckham Witty (Hohenfels), 5. Grant Rohrer (Brussels), 6. Samuel Stutzman (Naples), 7. Carson Owens (Bahrain), 8. Alejandro Cuesta (SHAPE), 9. Gray Bayless (AFNORTH), 10. Cameron Holloway (Vilseck).

Doubles

1. Noah Shive/Zachary Call (Stuttgart), 2. Jacob Gerber/Jace Martin (Kaiserslautern), 3. Eric Kim/Sean Him (Ramstein), 4. Gethin Moose/Tyler Kesinger (Alconbury), 5. Sam Grady/Andrew Reed (Vicenza), 6. Nick Cronk/Ben Avalos (Naples), 7. Calvin Moncada/Jesse Rico (Lakenheath), 8. Joseph Moody/Adrian Metcalf (Hohenfels), 9. Matthew Mendoza/Ja’Cori Thomas (Bahrain), 10. Nicolas Lanker/Grant Sturgeon (Rota).

Girls

Singles

1. Stella Schmitz (Kaiserslautern), 2. Kassianna von Eiken (Ramstein), 3. Asalei Caffarelli (Marymount), 4. Charlize Caro (Sigonella), 5. Carla Cuesta (SHAPE), 6. Delia Gordon (Vicenza), 7. Samantha Moran (Spangdahlem), 8. Meredith Maxwell (Ansbach), 9. Sheckina Boswell (AFNORTH), 10. Isabel Williams (Stuttgart).

Doubles

1. Devin French/Kiera French (Stuttgart), 2. Addie Wilson/Annika Svenson (Vicenza), 3. Abby Hover/Alisa Dietzel (Kaiserslautern), 4. Talia Lord/Liliana Stutzman (Naples), 5. Abigail Halttunen/Riley Thomas (Brussels), 6. Mariana Torrente de la Pisa/Chiara D’Arrigo (SHAPE), 7. Elizabeth Petrich/Maddison Beedham (Lakenheath), 8. Anceline Sanchez/Rachana Dacumos (Alconbury), 9. Bella Rainey/Sophia Rainey (Wiesbaden), 10. Kennedy Call/Aliya Jones (Ramstein).

author picture
Matt is a sports reporter for Stars and Stripes based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. A son of two career Air Force aircraft maintenance technicians, he previously worked at newspapers in northeast Ohio for 10 years and is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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