There was a lot of pressure on Susie Hiniker ’03 as she faced Princeton’s Alison Hashmall in last Monday’s ECAC women’s tennis championship.
“Winning that match and clinching the match for the team was one of the nicest (and most relieving) moments of my career here,” said Hiniker, who defeated Hashmall 6-2, 7-5. Hiniker’s win was the championship-clinching victory in Yale’s 5-2 defeat of the Tigers.
Hiniker is certainly no stranger to tight spots — and clutch performances.
“I’ve had a few other matches like that,” Hiniker said. “I looked around at everyone else’s courts and realized that my match was the one we needed in order to win, and that pretty soon everyone would come over and start watching my court, so I better hurry up and start winning.”
Teammates said Hiniker binds the squad together.
“Susie is so solid for our team,” said captain Biffy Kaufman ’03. “We all know that we can depend on her to step out for every match ready to compete, and she wins most of her matches.”
Close matches have followed Hiniker since she started playing tennis. In one of her first tournaments, Susie, then 10 years old, played the longest match in Southeast Michigan tournament history. She won 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 in a four hour marathon.
“I tend to play a lot of long points and grind from the baseline,” said Hiniker. “It’s too much running for an old lady like me.”
Hiniker’s style of play on the court might require a lot of running, but it has worked for her in four years with the Elis. Hiniker finished her high school career undefeated and has continued her stellar play at Yale. She ended last season with 34 wins and only 15 losses at singles.
“I like singles better,” Hiniker said. “Because win or lose, you’re on your own and you have to do it yourself. Doubles is more fun, but singles means more to me. It’s more satisfying to win, and more disappointing to lose.”
That feeling of satisfaction after a victory is what drew her into tennis.
“I started really liking [tennis] after I started beating my brother and sister and driving them nuts,” Hiniker said.
Her older sister, Annie, played on Harvard’s tennis team. David, Susie’s younger brother and a sophomore at Harvard, played for the Crimson his freshman year.
“So I’m the black sheep in the family,” Hiniker said. “I think the Harvard coach expected me to go there, but I visited Yale, fell in love with it, and knew it was where I wanted to be.”
According to Kaufman, Hiniker is one of those remarkable people.
“Susie is one of the most interesting people at Yale,” Kaufman said. “She seems quiet, sweet and innocent but once you get to know her she’s one of the funniest, most intelligent people around.”
Even Hiniker’s eating habits differ from what one might expect of a varsity athlete.
“She has the world’s biggest sweet tooth,” said Kaufman. “But she’s also one of the smallest people around. Her meals consist of either frozen yogurt, M&Ms, frosting or muffin tops.”
In spite of those questionable dietary selections, Hiniker is a pre-med psychology major.
“I chose psychology because I think the mind is so interesting, and the psychology professors are just great here,” Hiniker said. “I don’t plan on going into psychology–I’m pre-med and want to eventually become a hematologist/oncologist.”
Hiniker says that medical school will not prevent her from continuing to play tennis, though.
“I’ll keep playing tennis, because I want to play on the Senior Circuit one day, in the 80 and over division.”
If Hiniker hopes to play competitive tennis at 80, she will have to find a way to leave her baseline game with her years at Yale.