Captain Biffy Kaufman ’03 brings a Californian’s love of fun and the sun to a women’s tennis team (13-1) that has responded by jumping to a No. 40 national ranking.

“She’s a total California girl,” teammate Susie Hiniker ’03 said. “And even though we’re sometimes puzzled as to how we got her to leave her surfboard and sun for New Haven, we’re so lucky that we did.”

Kaufman, whose determination Hiniker says is a source of inspiration for the team, has posted a 13-2 singles record en route to being individually nationally ranked No. 68. But while she is very competitive, Kaufman places team goals ahead of individual honors.

“Yes, first-team All-Ivy is a goal of mine,” she said. “But I would rather win the team Ivy title this year. The national rankings are nice, too, but once again I would love it if the team made the NCAAs this year, which I think is a possibility.”

While a tourney bid remains uncertain, there is no doubt the Bulldogs will have fun with Kaufman as captain.

“Biffy [Kaufman] is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met: really quick-witted, and a total team player,” Hiniker said, before mentioning Kaufman’s sexually provocative gag gift to a teammate at last year’s team banquet.

Kaufman, an American Studies major, has relinquished her career goal of sushi chef, as noted on the Yale athletics website, in favor of traveling and playing tennis professionally next year. Though she has taken only the minimal number of required science classes while at Yale, Kaufman says she would eventually like to go to medical school.

“It would be awesome to be the team doctor for a big team like the [Oakland] Raiders or the [San Diego] Chargers — but definitely somewhere warm like California,” she said.

Kaufman first became interested in tennis as a five year old, watching her two older brothers play and take lessons.

“I asked my mom if I could take lessons too, and I have been playing ever since,” she said. “About a year later, I beat both of my brothers who quit and haven’t picked up a racket since. I am the only one in my family who plays.”

Though brothers 25-year-old David Kaufman, 23-year-old Robert Kaufman and John Kaufman ’06, a freshman on the football team known as “Biffy,” do not play tennis, Kaufman says they are part of her athletic career.

“It was great growing up with all boys because we played a lot of sports together in our yard, or we would surf together at the beach by my house,” she said. “Sometimes, John [Kaufman] will try to return my serves, but I usually end up hitting him in the ‘family jewels’ with my serve, so that doesn’t last too long.”

Head Coach Chad Skorupka compares Biffy’s game to that of Martina Navratilova.

“Biffy plays with a lot of slice from the backhand side,” Skorupka said. “[She] also has the hands and volleys [that] Martina had — also great determination.”

Kaufman says the biggest improvement to her game since arriving at Yale has been her attitude. Those feelings are shared on the squad.

“Biffy’s been a great captain,” Hiniker said. “Of my four years here, this is by far the best atmosphere and chemistry the team has had, and I think a lot of that comes from Biffy.”