Playing For Something Greater Than Yourself

Burkhart in the midst of a serve. Source: Gavin Jordan

Austin Burkhart from Albion, Michigan is a junior here at Greenville University. He is a Chemistry major and has been a part of the GU Men’s Tennis Team for three years now.

Burkhart began playing tennis when he was in elementary school. There was a camp for kids and Burkhart decided he wanted to give tennis a shot. He fell in love with the sport instantly because of the joy and excitement it brought to him. For Burkhart, tennis became very fun as he started playing the game a lot more because of the competition he was facing and the improvement he was seeing in himself.

Burkhart posing in front of the GU tennis courts. Source:

Deciding to attend GU was a no-brainer for Burkhart after he came on a visit with his assistant coach from high school. After the visit, Burkhart knew it was the place to be because of the culture and the atmosphere it created around tennis. He saw that the culture was filled with very positive energy and people who work hard at what they do. Most importantly, he liked seeing that everyone was keeping each other accountable. Burkhart felt that GU was very similar to his high school and because of that, he decided it was the place to be.

Brett Brannon, the head coach for the men’s tennis team, has been coaching Burkhart to play under control and remain calm under any situation. One thing that Brannon really helps Burkhart with is playing for Christ and not just himself. Playing for something more than himself is a way to help him play hard no matter what because even when the game is out of hand, the effort he puts in is all for the love of Christ.

One of Burkhart’s favorite memories was from a match at Illinois Tech in his sophomore year when they were projected to lose against them. There was a moment where the team was down 2-4 after a couple of matches with three more games to play. The team fought hard and tied the score being 4-4. Burkhart was given the opportunity to play in the final match to clinch the win. In the final match, Burkhart won 15 out of the 17 points to clinch the match and brought home the win with the final score being 5-4.

Burkhart in action during a home match. Source:

Burkhart feels that his role on the team is to be the one with the positive energy and to keep everyone up when they get down on themselves. One of the biggest challenges for Burkhart is staying positive because there are always some bad days that happen to everybody. Playing for Christ is something that helps him keep this positive attitude. He stated that, “One area that I have grown in since coming here is my faith, specifically representing Christ in everything I do on or off the court. I have grown in this area so much because I am constantly pushing myself more and more each day to represent Christ with all I’ve got.”

One of Burkhart’s biggest accomplishments so far was when he went 34-3 in his sophomore season playing tennis. Burkhart also earned First Team All-Conference honors and made it to the finals at the ITA tournament that fall, where he defeated the #2 seed in the opening round. Continuing the 2019 season, Burkhart hopes to get First Team All-Conference once more and win the conference as a team.

Media by Gavin Jordan.


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