Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bertha’s Wisconsin career full of highs, lows

Love for a sport does not sprout overnight. For Billy Bertha, this was the case. 

From his very first exposure to tennis, he slowly developed an affinity for the game and soon made his decision.

After trying various sports including football, basketball, soccer and tennis, Billy decided to focus his attention on tennis. Bertha played his high school tennis at state tennis powerhouse Marquette High School. In his senior year Bertha won the WIAA Division I title, propelling him to the top of the state rankings. His career record of 64-14 helped Bertha become a five-star recruit and set him on course to play at his dream school, the University of Wisconsin.


“I had a lot of other options coming into college,” Bertha reflected. “However, I wanted to represent my home state.”

Bertha made his first start September 18, 2009. In his freshman campaign, Bertha went 20-13 in singles, ranging from the sixth spot to the second in the lineup. That same year he went 11-8 in doubles play, playing primarily in the number three spot with five different partners.

Bertha’s record slumped in his sophomore year as he moved up to the second spot in singles play. He finished with a record of 15-20 and 4-6 in the Big Ten. In doubles Bertha began his three-year stint on the Badgers’ top team. In his sophomore season he recorded an impressive 26-10 in doubles play, including a 6-4 Big Ten record.

Then his junior year kicked off with Bertha named captain.

“It was really nice to know my hard work didn’t go unnoticed,” Bertha said. “Being a hometown kid, I take a lot of pride in the university and the program. It is nice to be able to put my footprint on the program in my own way.”

Fighting off recurring back injuries, Bertha was able to play 23 singles matches his junior year, finishing with a record of 12-11. His doubles success continued on the Badgers’ top pair, finishing the season with a 19-10 overall record, going 5-5 in conference matches.

Back troubles have continued to plague Bertha in his final season with the Badgers. Most recently, he missed meets at Ohio State and Penn State last weekend. So far this season, Bertha is 6-14 in singles matchups battling against top singles players from across the country.

This last year has been a whirlwind tour of sorts for Bertha who is getting to see a lot of his old friends from high school and junior tournaments one last time on the court.

“I played against a lot of these guys growing up,” Bertha recalled. “One plays for North Carolina, another Notre Dame and a few at Ohio State. Every time we play we like to catch up. It is nice to compete one last time before we’re all done.”

Throughout his four years on the Badgers tennis team Bertha has no doubt had his ups and downs. 

From making the NCAA tournament to dealing with back issues, from being on a top ten doubles team to having that doubles partner leave the team, Bertha has had both positive and negative experiences.

“My freshman year we were able to make it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament,” Bertha said. “I was lucky enough to clinch the match right before that. That team was really good and it was fun playing with those guys.”

Bertha, like many college students, learned a key lesson as he dealt with the struggles of early adulthood. He admits that the ability to balance school, tennis and a social life was a struggle the first few years.

“I have really learned to go into everything with an open mind,” Bertha explains. “It may not work out the way you want it to, but if you keep an open mind anything can happen.”

Next year will be Bertha’s first year away from the sport competitively in a long time. He will be finishing up his degree in finance during his “victory lap” of school and is hoping to get a job with an investment firm someday. No doubt the lessons he learned on the court here at Madison will work their way into his professional career as he goes forward.

Meanwhile, the tennis team will look to recover from the loss of their four-year starter and team captain.

“His leadership is something we will miss with his absence,” assistant coach Joe Bates said. “We have two top-ranked Americans coming in, so we are hoping that they can step in and be similar type of players as Billy.”

Bertha will move on from here and no doubt become a well-respected member of the business world, a dream that many of the students at this university share. Although he will be going pro in something else, his footprint and legacy has been etched into Wisconsin tennis program.

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