For EUR student Bart Van den Berg, this was a dream come true: competing against the world’s best doubles players. Sadly, they didn’t win, but it was an amazing experience.

On Wednesday, Van den Berg, member of the Rotterdam student tennis association, partnered professional tennis player Jesse Huta Galung in the first round of the doubles. Despite a break of serve over Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo (the world’s best doubles player) in the first set and a strong second set, they eventually lost 6-2 7-5. After a match that lasted exactly one hour, Van den Berg’s adventure was over.

Tennis temple

“It was incredible, not like any of the tennis matches I normally play,” said Van den Berg after the match. “They’re usually fairly quiet, but now I was in a sort of tennis temple. You hear your name being chanted – a feeling I’ll never forget!” The Van den Berg (21) had never played in front of so many people before, so it took some getting used to. “It was quite difficult and I was pretty nervous before the match. Luckily I was able to shake off my nerves quite quickly and focus on the match itself.’’

Despite this being the first time that Van den Berg and Huta Galung – once a top 100 player himself – had been on court together, the master student in Accounting was reasonably satisfied with his performance. “I’m happy with how I performed on such a stage. Jesse and I did well in the second set. The difference in our level was smaller than we expected. You saw the guys on the other side of the net thinking ‘OK, we’ve really got some work to do.’’’

'See how far I can go’

Besides his studies, the student spends a lot of time playing tennis: around fifteen to twenty hours a week. All that work has definitely paid off. “Although I’ve been studying, I’ve been able to develop well as a tennis player too. The fact that I was able to take part in this tournament is a great reward that I could never have dreamed of before.” Van den Berg hopes that this won’t be the last time he’s able to take part in the biggest tennis tournament in the Netherlands. “I graduate next summer, and then I want to focus full time on playing tennis and see how far I can go.’’