In advance ot the Big Ten Women's Tennis Tournament April 23-26 in Madison, we wanted to catch up with some of our former Badger tennis players who participated in past tournaments. Today we visit with Marija (Neubauer) Pientka.
Pientka was one of UW's first All-Americans in tennis earning honors in doubles by advancing to the quarterfinals of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. She was a four-time All-Big Ten singles player and one of only two Badgers to ever earn first team honors all four years (1991-94). She was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and ranks fourth in both career and single season doubles victories.
Pientka currently serves as an associate athletic director with the University of WIsconsin Athletics program where today she shars her reflections on being a Badger.
1. What have you been doing since graduating and where are you living and working now
After graduation, I served as a communications assistant for the Big Ten Conference in Chicago, IL. I then returned to Madison where I have spent eight years serving in various roles within our development office. Since 2006, I have served as an Associate Athletic Director, and in addition to the Departments development efforts, I oversee the mens and womens tennis programs and spirit squad. I also serve as the Divisions liaison to the National W Club, Wisconsin Alumni Association, UW Foundation and UW Band.
2. How has your academic experience and/or your degree from UW assisted you in your chosen career
I use my degree in Journalism EVERY day. Much of my responsibilities are external relations in nature, so I spend most of my time working with current and former student-athletes, coaches, and donors and prospective donors to further the mission of UW Athletics.
3. Did your experience in athletics influence you in your current vocation If so, how
Absolutely! I had a wonderful experience as a tennis player, and by the end of my tennis career, I knew I wanted to find a career within athletics. Every day I work to insure current and future Badger student-athletes can have the best possible experience both in the classroom and on the playing field.
4. What is your fondest memory as a student-athlete at Wisconsin
Competitively, becoming Wisconsins first all-American with doubles partner Amanda Gregory. What a thrill! Aside from that, just the day-to-day hard work and fun with my teammates, most of whom I still keep in touch with today.They have truly become life-long friends.
5. What was the best thing about being a Badger
Unbelievable school spirit and pride!!
6. What was your favorite class at Wisconsin
7. What was your favorite part of campus Where did you spend most of your time
I spent most of my time at Nielsen, which certainly holds a special place in my heart. I also loved hanging out at the Union Terrace when time allowed.
8. What advice would you give current student-athletes
Take advantage of and appreciate - every opportunity and experience provided to you while a student-athletethere are few institutions in this country that compare to UW-Madison.
NAME: Marija (Neubauer) Pientka
YEARS AT WISCONSIN: 1990-1994
HOMETOWN: Rochester Hills, Mich.
CURRENT ADDRESS: Middleton, Wis.
VOCATIONS: Associate Athletic Director, University of Wisconsin
FAMILY: Married to Jim Pientka, daughter Sophia (7 weeks); step-children Jack (10) and Jessica (7)
First Badgers to achieve All-American honors as the doubles team of Neubauer and Amanda Gregory advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals in 1992; also qualified for the 1993 NCAA Championship in doubles
Three-time Academic All-Big Ten and Badger Advantage Club Scholar Athlete (Journalism)
Four-time All-Big Ten in singles (one of only two Badgers to earn first team honors all four years)
Ranks fourth in most doubles win in a season with a 26-9 record (74.3 percent) in 1991-92
Ranks fourth in most career doubles wins with a 43-18 record (70.5 percent) in 1991-93
Ranks tied for eighth in career singles victories with an 84-60 record (58.3 percent) in 1991-94