GVSU tennis siblings help each other on and off the courts
Jack and Nicole Heiniger contribute in different capacities for Lakers
Tennis and siblings go racket-in-racket. The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, and the top doubles pairing of the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, represent the two most notable pairs of siblings in the sport.
The Grand Valley State men's and women's tennis teams feature the Heiniger siblings.
Older brother Jack Heiniger and younger sister Nicole Heiniger team up at GVSU, and both play a pivotal role in their respective teams' success.
As a junior, Jack usually plays in the fourth singles match as well as the second doubles pair. Freshman Nicole plays in the sixth singles match.
The two began playing tennis at an early age thanks to their parents, who also both played tennis. Alongside their older sister, Rachael the three siblings competed and made each other better.
“My dad really started us off playing at a young age,” Jack said. “We all started around the age of 6. My Dad just loves tennis and wanted us to play.”
Jack decided to attend GVSU after finishing a solid high school career at Munster High School in Indiana. His overall record was 87-14 and he was an all-conference selection all four years.
Nicole was intrigued by GVSU due to Jack’s attendance. She finished her high school career at the same school with an overall record of 88-19. She was the No. 1 singles player on the team.
“One time when I came to see him (at GVSU), I really loved the school,” she said. “I really get along well with him. Him being here at GV definitely influenced me to come here.”
Jack arrived at GVSU two years ago and made an immediate impact his freshman season. He ranked second on the team in singles wins, compiling an overall record of 21-13 with a 6-4 record in conference play.
His sophomore year, Jack only got better. He improved his singles match record to 23-8, and was a perfect 10-0 in tournaments. His doubles record vastly improved from 20-18 to 32-7. He was also able to help the Lakers advance to the second round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament.
Nicole still has time to build her resume as a Laker tennis player. Currently, however, she is making an immediate impact for the women’s side. She holds a 14-2 overall record and is undefeated in dual matches at 6-0. She is also 1-0 in GLIAC play.
Nicole is still getting adjusted to the college lifestyle, but thanks to her older brother, she is able to ease into the process, especially since the siblings' parents are back home in Illinois.
“(Our parents) come to a lot of our matches,” she said. “Its really nice, though, to have an older sibling on campus. Jack has been really helpful showing me around, especially in the first few weeks.”
Off the tennis courts, the two siblings spend their leisure time together like any other good friends. They hang out and talk about interests. On the courts, however, it is all business for the two. They help each other get better.
“I was glad my prior experience could help her this summer,” Jack said. “I was helping her get ready for college tennis by teaching her some of the small things I had learned from my college tennis experience.”
Both siblings hope to help GVSU tennis to compete on the national level.