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Ramstein's Tristan Chandler watches his serve as it crosses the net in a boys semifinal match against SHAPE's Alejandro Cuesta during the DODEA European tennis championships on Oct. 20, 2023, at T2 Sports Health Club in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Ramstein's Tristan Chandler watches his serve as it crosses the net in a boys semifinal match against SHAPE's Alejandro Cuesta during the DODEA European tennis championships on Oct. 20, 2023, at T2 Sports Health Club in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

Stars and Stripes has selected an Athlete of the Year for each of the respective fall sports played across each of DODEA’s Europe and Pacific theaters. Check out our site this week to read profiles for golf (Tuesday), tennis (Wednesday), cross country (Thursday), volleyball (Friday) and football (Saturday).

The story goes that Tristan Chandler started his tennis career ahead of most.

Watching his mother Tammy play at a camp when he was 3 years old, the Ramstein junior desired nothing more than to get out there on the court. The thing is adults wanted to wait until he turned 4 to allow him to pick up a racket.

“I was crying at the fence wanting to play with her,” Chandler said. “My current coach (Frank Schmitz), who was also the coach back then, said, ‘No, no, you got to wait until you’re 4.’

They finally caved in at 3 1/2 and he hit the ball over the net on his first attempt.

“From the get-go, I was playing pretty well,” the Ramstein junior said.

Chandler has continued to be ahead of many of his peers. The Royal ace won his third DODEA European boys singles crown last month at the T2 Sports Health Club in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Because of this, Chandler has been named the Stars and Stripes boys tennis Athlete of the Year in Europe.

The son of Tammy and Yancy Chandler entered the tournament as the favorite and was looking forward to a rematch with Marymount’s Leonardo Proietti. The second seed pushed Tristan Chandler to the limit in a three-set thriller during the 2022 final.

Prioetti didn’t make the trip, however. Chandler didn’t let that get him down and swept his way to the championship.

“I had the overall goal of winning Euros again, so I just kept that goal,” he said.

He dominated in the tournament, like he had all fall.

Chandler dropped just four games all campaign. Two came during the regular season against Kaiserslautern’s Jace Martin and SHAPE’s Alejandro Cuesta.

In the tournament, Vicenza’s Sam Grady managed to get one in pool play before Martin once again got one in the final. Ramstein coach Alfredo Rios was thankful to Grady, as Rios made a deal with Chandler to shave off his rather long goatee if the Royal junior goose-egged opponents throughout the tournament.

“He lost a game, and I told that guy you’re my (favorite) player,” Rios said. “He saved my beard.”

It may have been a joke, but Chandler’s supremacy on the DODEA European courts is undeniable. He plays at the same level and intensity he does against local competition with his club 1. TC Weilerbach.

Rios also mentioned how genuinely he treats his teammates and opponents, giving pointers to others unprompted and watching everybody else after he’s done.

“He doesn’t have to play for DODEA because he is that good,” Rios said. “He can go out there and play all the tournaments, doesn’t have to come to practice, doesn’t have to come to our Saturday games and yet he still does. It’s something that he does without hesitation.”

As for the future, Chandler aspires to play collegiately. He already has one official visit set up with a Division II school with other universities taking a look.

To drum up interest, Chandler will be improving his game with his personal coach, Schmitz, and his club coach, as he tries to help Weilerbach win promotion out of the Verbandsliga and into the Oberliga, the second-highest tier in the Rheinland-Pfalz state.

Then, come next fall, he will go after a fourth-straight boys single title.

“I’m going to keep on improving over the winter, increase my ranking on the junior side and hopefully gain a men’s national ranking,” Chandler said.

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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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