For many young athletes, playing for Michigan is a childhood dream. For senior tennis player Teddy Oosterbaan, it was destiny.
The Oosterbaan family legacy is the stuff of legends at Michigan. Teddy’s father, JP, was on the National Championship winning 1989 basketball team. Teddy’s grandfather, John, also played basketball for the Wolverines from 1962-1963.
But, of course, when the name Oosterbaan is mentioned in Ann Arbor, there’s one association above all: John’s cousin, Bennie.
Bennie served as head football coach from 1948-1958, leading the Wolverines to a 63-33-4 record in that span. As a player he led the Big Ten in touchdown receptions in the 1925 football season, he won the 1927 Big Ten batting title in baseball and secured the 1928 Big Ten scoring title in basketball. Bennie served as head coach of Michigan basketball from 1938-1946 in which his teams compiled an 81-72 record. He also worked extensively in the athletic department throughout his professional career.
Teddy’s siblings, Lizzy and Paul, played tennis at Xavier and Georgia, respectively. Teddy was recruited to play tennis at schools across the Big Ten, but he knew Ann Arbor was home.
“It was probably the easiest choice I’ve ever made,” Oosterbaan said.
With a family like the Oosterbaans, casual play would often turn competitive. Growing up, Teddy and his siblings struggled to defeat their dad in driveway basketball, especially in shorter tilts where they couldn’t wear him out. They’d find themselves in luck only when friends were over and JP would downplay his skills.
In tennis, a sport that his dad and uncle both played, Teddy and his siblings would typically have the upper hand. JP likes to talk up his tennis game, but when facing three then-future Division I tennis players, he’d find himself unable to stay in contention.
Although competition would get tense, it helped shape Teddy, who’s enrolled in the Ross School of Business, into the student-athlete he is today. He emphasized that although Michigan athletics was always high on the radar, he had his family’s unconditional support no matter what path he chose to take.
Oosterbaan describes Michigan tennis as a unique program. Although it’s an individual sport, the team atmosphere at Michigan — one built by a committed coaching staff and driven athletes — is unmatched, he says. From cooperative practices that are “loud and competitive,” to unparalleled team bonding, Michigan tennis has been a perfect fit.
With his senior season looming, it is now time for Teddy to carry the Oosterbaan name into its next chapter.
Teddy recalled last year’s season as, “by far the best season since I’ve been here,” before the pandemic abruptly ended it. With so many key returners, along with dynamic new freshmen on the roster, expectations for this season are even higher.
The pandemic has brought great uncertainty on athletic programs across the country, but Michigan tennis is taking it in stride. The coaching staff has gotten them back into competition form. They’re regularly practicing — with safety protocols in place — and they’re improving each day toward the hope of a full season this spring.
“We expect to be competing for a Big Ten Championship,” Oosterbaan said. “And hopefully a national championship as well.”
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