The legendary Bartnik backhand

We’re back for the second round in our series of interviews with Columbia athletes to help you get to know these jocular jocks. Last week, we broke a sweat with Kyle Merber, star distance runner for Men’s Track & Field. Next up is Florida native, Nikki Bartnik CC ’13, who has owned the No. 1 singles spot on the Women’s Tennis team since she first threw on a light blue jersey back in Spring 2010. As a freshman, she won the A singles title at the USTA Collegiate Invitational and hasn’t looked back, earning unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honors in her sophomore season. This fall, Nikki became the first player in Columbia history to win a regional title when she claimed the 2011 ITA Northeast Regional singles crown, dropping only one set in the tournament. Nikki has been dominant this spring as well, boasting a 12-3 record in the No. 1 singles spot and leading the Women’s Tennis team to a 2nd place standing in the Ivy League heading into the final weekend of matches.

Explain your sport in thirty words or less.

Hit ball, run….hit ball, run….hit ball, run.

Do you have any good luck charms or rituals you practice before your game/match/race/meet?

I have many rituals and charms pre-match and during matches.
1. I must always have bracelets on my left wrist….ALWAYS.
2. I have to eat oatmeal before every match assuming it starts before 2 pm. However, before our match against Brown I really wanted an egg and cheese bagel so I changed my “rule” to eating oatmeal at all away games.
3. I have a very complicated system of drinking Gatorade and water during matches…there is a formula which dictates how much I drink of each depending on the score of the set which I will not try to explain here because even my coaches don’t understand after I tried explaining to them…basically, nobody touches my water.

Describe your greatest sports moment, and your most embarrassing.

This past weekend against Brown was pretty special for me because I clinched the match for Columbia in a very close third set. It was the first time I had clinched such a close match and it felt great to have my team run out on the court and celebrate. I also had a pretty memorable match in juniors close to the end of my senior year of high school in which I was playing the defending junior Wimbledon champion in my hometown. I was expected to lose pretty badly but I ended up winning in three sets and like half of my senior class ran over after school to watch all of the third set. That was tight.

As for embarrassing moments, I was playing an intense match on a red clay court and my opponent hit an awesome dropshot about a foot away from the net but I ran it down. However, I was on a clay court so I kept sliding into the net and somehow my foot got caught and I basically flipped over the net. It was pretty awful.

How is life like your sport?

There are a lot of ups and downs and you meet a lot of psychos on the court…and life?

What’s the best sex joke about/having to do with your sport?

It’s a sport with balls… you can basically make anything sound bad.

Can you describe the dynamic between the Men’s and Women’s teams? Do they get along? Is there a lot of intra-sport dating, if you will?

No juicy news on dating, sorry to disappoint, but we get along really well. We share our bubble in peace and harmony. We also go to each other’s matches whenever we can and try to be the loudest people there. Also, Winston Lin is my hero. HI WINSTON!

Catch Nikki and the rest the Women’s Tennis team in action this weekend when they take on Penn in the final match of the season on Sunday at noon at Dick Savitt Tennis Center.