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BGSU Tennis’ Baker, Chaffee, Clemens look to lift program for years to come

BGSU Athletics

The BGSU Tennis season is in full swing, and the team is looking to improve from the first year of new head coach Mike Bonnell’s tenure.

This offseason, the team added three promising freshmen in hopes of bringing the program to an elite level.  

Isabella Baker, Brynn Chaffee, and Tia Clemens all join the tennis team from a variety of places, while boasting impressive resumes as well.  

Baker helms from Halifax, Nova Scotia and brings plenty of tennis expertise with her. She was the top-ranked junior in Atlantic Canada and holds seven Junior Atlantic Championship titles.  

Baker described her childhood in Canada as an important bonding time in her life.  

“[Hailfax] is not a huge city or anything, so you do know a lot of people and it’s a pretty tight community where I’m from,” said Baker.

Traveling from Canada to Bowling Green is a huge commitment, but Baker seems to have no regrets making the trip the home of the Falcons.  

“Honestly, just visiting the campus and meeting the team was really what convinced me,” said Baker. “All the girls were so welcoming and nice, and I really just love the community here.” 

Chaffee resides in Sylvania, and was one of the best tennis players in the Northern Lakes League. She is a four-time member of the All-NLL First Team and a three-time member of the All-District First Team at Sylvania Northview High School.  

Her uncle, Paul, has some tennis experience himself, and this has benefited Chaffee’s game for the better.  

“My uncle is actually currently a tennis pro, and then my grandpa coached tennis and then I had other family members there, different relatives, playing college [and] coaching college so tennis has always been in the family,” said Chaffee. “Every time I see [my uncle], he’ll give me some tips on my tennis, so I think that really influenced me to start playing tennis just because of all that history in my family.’

Clemens joins the program at the top of her game, and her two St. Joseph Varsity Tennis MVP awards show for it.

For the Cleveland, Ohio native, tennis has been in her blood from a young age.  

“I actually started when I was around five [years old], my dad just decided to throw me some tennis balls in the driveway and see where I could go with it to see if I liked it and I did,” Clemens said. “I wanted to start playing competitively around age 10-11, and as soon as I started playing tournaments, I just knew that this was something I was going to do for a long time.”  

Athletics run through the Clemens family, but her lineage has experience with the NBA rather than tennis.

Clemens’s mother, Stefanie Meade, is the current Chief Financial Officer for the Cleveland Cavaliers, while her grandfather Barry played in the NBA from 1965-77.  

The NBA roots in Clemens’ family have helped her in unexpected ways.  

“My grandpa’s history actually affected me a lot growing up because his intensity was just different from the average person. said Clemens. “He gave me tips all the time, told me to do this, do that. We have an interesting connection in that way where on court he’s very intense, and at times that would get to me, but I just learned how to manage it, and now we have a really good relationship.”  

All of these players have gained motivation from professional tennis players as well, with the three mentioning that stars Coco Gauff and Roger Federer are role models for them as they progress through their careers.  

The new Falcons are helping Bonnell bring the orange and brown tennis squad to new heights, and they are excited to see where their BGSU careers will take them.

But they all reflect back on their humble beginnings, and preach that putting in the work will pay off. 

“I think hard work can be counted on all the time. If you stick with it and keep going, I really think you can accomplish anything,” Clemens said. “For me, I was caught up in like rankings [during juniors] so I would just say don’t even worry about that. Just work hard, play matches and don’t even focus on the rankings because at the end of the day, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.” 

The Falcons went 19-6 during the IUPUI Fall Invitational on Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, with all three freshmen scoring singles and doubles wins.

The team will be in action on Oct. 13 against Findlay (9:30 a.m.) and Bucknell (2 p.m.) at Keefe Tennis Courts.

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).  

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