USADSF Spotlight with Noah - US Deaflympians Daniel and Emily Hangstefer

Noah: Hello! Welcome to USADSF Spotlight with Noah. I am Noah Valencia. Today, we will interview not just one person but two, Daniel and Emily Hangstefer. You will notice they share the same last name as they are a brother and sister duo. They won a silver medal in mixed doubles tennis in 2013 in Sofia, Bulgaria. They competed as a sibling duo and won a silver so I am excited to interview them and ask them about their experiences working together as sibling partners.

Daniel: I am Daniel (shows his sign name)

Noah: Emily?

Emily: I am Emily.

Noah: I understand that you both were raised in a tennis family. Was that where you both developed your tennis skills and became immersed in tennis?

Daniel: Yes. Our parents had 6 children. Emily is the youngest of all of us, while I am the fifth child. We are two years apart. All of us play tennis.

Emily: All of us played throughout our lives, throughout our college years, competitively in division one. However the oldest one played competitively in a high ranked community college. All of us played in college!

Noah: Tennis is really in your blood!

Daniel: I want to talk about Katie too. Katie, herself is a college coach and now, I am a college coach as well.

Noah: Coaching runs in the family!

Daniel: Our mother also played college tennis too.

Noah: Wow.

Daniel: She was the first woman to be on the women’s tennis team for the University of Chattanooga.

Noah: Wow. What a long line of tennis. You mentioned that you both are only two years apart. What was your experience like growing up with each other, in competitions? Was it helpful to create tennis chemistry while playing together in doubles tennis?

Emily: Oh yes. All of us are very competitive, with tennis and with other things too! When it comes to playing together in mixed doubles, it definitely helps when we compete in matches against opponents, yes.

Daniel: Yes, both of us, me and Emily, growing up, share a lot of the same experiences such as commuting to tennis practices. We were always together. Of course, we always competed against each other but that helped us become closer and understand each other. That was vital to our doubles tennis competitions.

Noah: I can imagine that having younger siblings helps each other become better.

Emily: Yes. That helps a lot when we play together. When we play together, we understand each other and know our games. Really, it is a huge advantage for us.

Daniel: When we know each other and understand what we usually do in the game, that works well in our competitions. It helps a lot when we understand our tendencies, like when I know Emily is going to be aggressive going to the net or I will be aggressive. I am not afraid to tell Emily what I want to do, and vice versa. That helps a lot as well.

Noah: That was the advantage that you both had. Knowing each other so well while growing up ultimately led you both to winning a silver medal in 2013. Right?

Image: Emily and Daniel are holding up an USA flag celebrating their victory in second place with silver medals around their necks.

Noah: Daniel and Emily attended 2013 Deaflympics and won silver medals in mixed doubles tennis together. Their coach happens to be their older sister, Katie Hangstefer, so I will ask them about their experiences with Katie as their coach and if that helped with their win?

Noah: Do you feel that Katie’s coaching style and advice that she gave you contributed to your silver win?

Emily: Oh yes! It helped me so much! Did it help you Daniel?

Daniel: Oh yes, I agree. She definitely helped me a lot. Katie taught us a lot often too. She is very calm and very organized too. So sometimes Emily and I get too competitive, Katie would come and calm us down easily. That relaxes us. Katie is a level headed coach who establishes that calm mindset when it comes to competition. She continues to do this. She is very good at what she does.

Emily: She knows how to teach, gives us pointers and when it comes to me, she is very straightforward and gives me feedback as it is, rather than being vague. She knows her players’ styles.

Noah: You have that advantage of having a sister who happens to be your coach.

Noah: Emily, you won a gold medal in women's doubles tennis while you both won silver in mixed doubles tennis. Now, do you both plan to return to the 2021 Deaflympics which unfolds next year in Brazil?

Emily: Oh yes, I would love to. But we have to see what happens in the future but as of now, I will plan on it. But we will see what happens with the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel: Yes, to go to Brazil will be truly incredible and cool. It would be a great experience. If I have the opportunity to go, I would love to go. The world right now is in a very strange place with a coronavirus pandemic, including with what is happening in our country. So I am trying to find a balance in what has been going on. It will be interesting to see what will happen within a year.

Noah: Agreed. When you go to Brazil, hopefully, you will try to defend your silver medal or go for the gold this time!

Noah: Any last comments before we close? Advices for our young tennis athletes?

Emily: Honestly, I don’t know what to say. Sports are tough so don’t be disappointed when things don't always go your way, you just have to go on. Don’t stop. That is all I can say.

Daniel: If you have an opportunity to represent the United States, grab that chance. That is my advice to you. It is a very unique experience. It provides personal growth. So if you have the opportunity to do so, try it! Keep trying. It is such an amazing experience. The experience in Sofia in 2013 was something that I will never forget. After that, I had an opportunity to give a presentation to 100 deaf baseball players. They were in awe as I was a Deaflympic athlete, representing the USA. It was so great to help inspire young athletes. It was an unique experience. I also want to repeat what Emily said, if you are disappointed or face an obstacle, forget about it and move forward. You can make a difference in other people’s lives, and continue to be persistent.

Noah: I agree with you. Staying persistent is the key. And to represent our country at Deaflympics is a really unique experience where everybody should grab the chance to do so.

Daniel: Agreed!

Noah: Thank you both for your time! I enjoyed talking with you both today! I hope to meet you both in Brazil in 2021.

Emily and Daniel: Yes! Thank you!

Noah: Wow. Siblings often compete and push each other to be the best player they can be. Now, it is great to see they are teammates. I look forward to seeing both in Brazil and hope that they win the gold medal this time! We wish them the best of luck in their journey. Until then, so long.

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