BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Bemidji State University Tennis Head Coach Kyle Fodness has announced the commitment of Claudie Billand (Mullhouse, France) and Sophie Groen (Uitgeest, Netherlands) to the Beaver tennis roster. Each signed a National Letter of Intent and plan to start their BSU academic and athletic careers in the fall of 2020.
The addition of the European duo brings BSU’s incoming freshman class to four. Billand and Groen join Shaelyn Johnson, a standout from Red River High School in Grand Forks, N.D., and Isabela Nelson, four-time letterwinner at Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls, Minn., who each committed to the team early in the signing period.
All signees are contingent upon admission to BSU and compliance with NCAA rules, including certification by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
- Claudie Billand (R, Mullhouse, France / Jean Mermoz High School)
Billand comes to Bemidji State from Jean Mermoz High School in Saint-Lois, France… An accomplished tennis player for more than 12 years, she has excelled in doubles play. With her teammate Emma Vurpillot she twice won a regional championship.
- Sophie Groen (L, Uitgeest, Netherlands / Bonhoeffer College)
Groen comes to Bemidji State from Bonhoeffer College where she played for TC Bakkum and Geert Koeman… A well-rounded athlete, in addition to picking up tennis at the age of four, she has also played field hockey and soccer competitively… She has competed at multiple regional and national championships and ranked as high as 118 in the Netherlands.
Fodness’ comments: “Both Sophie and Claudie are very talented and experienced players. Both are very athletic and are excited to improve their games at the college level.” Fodness continued, “Both stood out as team-first players, which is a trait that has been so important to this program over the years.”
While, Bemidji State has had international student-athletes on the tennis roster in the past, most recently Ariadna Lopez from Barcelona, Spain, Billand is thought to be the first Beaver to hail from France and Groen the first native of the Netherlands.
Bemidji State is coming off of a COVID-19-shortened 2020 season during which it went 7-7 overall and was 5-5 versus Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference competition in the first season with Fodness as head coach.
At the conclusion of the 2020 season, team lost Hannah Alme, Lopez and Brook Mimmack to graduation, but return four players, including captains Hannah Peterson and Laney Rutkowski.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).