Oct. 15, 2013
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MADISON, Wis. -- It has long been recognized that Nielsen Tennis Stadium is one of the finest indoor tennis facilities in college athletics. Now, thanks to the generosity of the Hentzen family, the home of the Badgers can officially score with the best of them.
Three brothers, Herb, Bill and Al Hentzen, donated a giant electronic scoreboard for the main court at Nielsen Stadium and individual digital scoreboards for six of the indoor courts.
All three Hentzen brothers lettered in tennis at the University of Wisconsin and both Herb and Al were back in Madison Monday for the official dedication of the new scoreboards.
“We wanted to give something back,” Herb added. “So we talked to the coach (Greg Van Emburgh) and said, ‘what do you need?’ He said a scoreboard and sent us pictures of all the schools that have them and we were excited to give something back to the university that gave us so much.”
“We are so thankful to the Hentzen family for their generous donation,” men’s tennis coach Greg Van Emburgh said. “These new scoreboards keep Nielsen and Wisconsin tennis on par with other great programs around college tennis and will really be a nice luxury for both our players and spectators.”
Herb was a two-time team captain for the Badgers in 1946 and 1947, while Al captained the squad in 1957 and 1958. Bill lettered at Wisconsin in 1954.
“I have had such great memories from tennis and made many friends through the game,” Herb said. “Tennis is a sport that teaches you a lot of life skills. You get knocked down and you have to get back up and keep playing. You win some and lose some and the sportsmanship is something you can take with you for a lifetime.”
Herb and Al addressed the men’s and women’s teams Monday, sharing some of those life lessons with the Badgers. They also shared stories about the campus back when they wore the Cardinal and White.
When the Hentzens competed at UW, the facilities were quite different.
“We used to play on the basketball court at the old Field House,” Herb said. “Sometimes they put a canvas down over the court and sometimes they didn’t. Then after the basketball season ended, they took down the basketball courts and put in three dirt courts. I wouldn’t call them clay courts because they were dirt courts. They weren’t all that smooth.”
Today, the Badgers are fortunate enough to not only play on smooth surfaces, but enjoy a facility that measures up to almost any in the NCAA. And now, thanks to the Hentzens, they’re ready to keep score.