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Dad comes off sidelines to join daughter in national tennis competition

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Many athletes are used to parents cheering them on from the sidelines. But for Rachael Bachman, Bethel College junior from Emporia, parental support goes beyond the stands to side-by-side on the court.

Rachael and her father, Greg Bachman of Emporia, recently participated in the State Games of America, a multi-sport event that occurs every two years, this year’s taking place in Colorado Springs, Colo., July 29-31.

The State Games of America is a national multi-sport event for athletes of all ages and abilities held under the banner of the National Congress of State Games. Medal winners from 49 State Games earn the right to compete against other winners in the national competition every other year. The State Games concept was developed in New York in 1978 with the Empire State Games, with more than 400,000 athletes now competing nationwide. State Games feature various sports from the Olympic and Pan American Games as well as sports with regional popularity in each state.

In Colorado Springs this summer, Rachael and Greg Bachman competed in tennis, playing in both the coed doubles and father-daughter divisions. After five matches, they placed first in both divisions, qualifying them to compete in the next national games, to be held in San Diego in July 2011. The pair originally qualified for Colorado Springs by participating in the Sunflower State Tournament in Topeka in summer 2007.

“We just thought it would be fun,” says Rachael Bachman. “It was our first time actually playing in it. We were the only team from Kansas – there were a bunch from Colorado and one from North Dakota.”

Greg Bachman is a physical therapist and runs a private practice and fitness center with his wife, Karen, in Emporia.

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was about 18, so it’s been about 33 years now,” he says.

Rachael Bachman played tennis all through high school and continues to compete at the varsity level at Bethel. She is an athletic training major who plans to follow in her parents’ footsteps by earning a degree in physical therapy after finishing her undergraduate studies.

“I’ve been around it my whole life, plus I’ve had a lot of sports injuries,” she says. “Most of them have been from basketball, that have affected tennis.”

Although Rachael and Greg have played together for a while, they only started doing it regularly in the past couple of years. Both say they enjoy having the opportunity to compete alongside one another.

“I like it a lot – it’s a lot of fun to play with my daughter,” Greg Bachman says. “We get along really well on and off the court. We’ve played enough to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses—there are really no negatives at all.”

Rachael Bachman agrees with her father. She’s glad, she says, for the unique experience of having him participate with her on the court.

“It’s nice to play with him, because if I mess up, he doesn’t get mad at me, and if he messes up, I don’t get mad at him. We might make fun of each other, though,” she adds with a smile.

“A lot of times parents are only able to be in the stands, so it’s nice when they can participate and share that experience. He’s always been a real big supporter. He’s never made me participate in anything I didn’t want to do, but if I tell him I want to do something, he’ll always help me be the best I can be.”

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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