Player Profile - Dan Hansen

February 16, 2023


Traveling Tournament Guy

Last September, after a long day of paddle camp, Dan Hansen sat down with a group of women and had one beer. When asked about his plans for the 2022-2023 platform tennis season, he started listing names and dates. It was a long list. Basically, Hansen was competing two to three times a month with eight different partners. Perhaps it is because he spends some of this time underground, working for the Navy as a hydraulic systems engineer on submarines. On weekends, he enjoys being outdoors hitting a ball.

Hansen said, “Graham McNerney told me I play more tournaments than anyone else. I haven’t verified it myself (maybe on purpose), but I’ll take his word for it. He’s trustworthy.” McNerney, Tomas Christian, Andrew Ong, and Filip Rams are some other prolific tournament participants.

Dan Hansen (Photo Credit: Larry Cornacchia)

Hansen continued, “I’ve played in 12 tournaments so far. I will play in Indianapolis (on February 17) and the Bourbon Bowl (on February 24) before playing Nationals this year.” A resident of Mystic, Connecticut—Stonington COMO is his home club—Hansen split time between driving the east coast corridor and flying to Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Louisville.

Hansen first stepped on a court in the fall of 2016. “When I moved to Mystic, I was looking for people to play tennis with. I met Chris Cappello, who brought me on the paddle court at Stonington and I was immediately hooked! The one thing I didn’t like about the sport, ironically, was the amount of spin people could put on the ball. I had a tough time reading it initially. But I loved that I could compete and improve quickly at the sport. I didn’t really play any tournaments that first year but played a bunch starting in the fall of 2017 with my first partner Nick Raho.”

“This season, I have played tournaments with Jerry Albrikes, Tomas Christian, Dan Hersh, Andre Ivarsson, Joe Koebele, Wil Lofgren, Mike McGrath, and Andrew Ong. Most of my partners I have met at tournaments. Jerry lives five minutes from me, though, so I practice with him a lot and we try to get in one or two tournaments a year. Joe and I played tennis for Drexel University (Go Dragons). I met Andre during a league match. I used to drive two hours each way from my house to play in the Westchester league on Tuesday nights. It just got to be a lot of driving though,” he smiled.

While he seems open to who he competes with, he has a few parameters. “I usually like partners that are steady from the backcourt and have great volleys on the net. A big drive out of my partner is always helpful—but don’t we all want that? I would choose steadiness over a big drive, though. I prefer to return from the deuce side so I like a partner that prefers the ad side, but if needed I will play either side. I frequently switch sides in the backcourt with my partner after returning. Andre is the only lefty I played with this season, which makes for an interesting dynamic because I am lefty too. He plays the ad side very well, and we communicate well on the court about who should be taking which overheads and when, so it works out well,” Hansen said.

2023-how-player-Dan with Andre Ivarsson Boston Open-600
Dan with Andre Ivarsson at Boston Open

Next season, he said, “I will probably try to have one primary partner next year, but it has been awesome playing with a lot of different people. For the last two years, my primary partner was Mike Cochrane, and it was really such a blast playing with him. We complimented each other well on the court. This year I wanted to try playing with different players and see how it worked out. I think realistically I will always have to play with multiple partners each year because there aren’t a lot of people that can play as many tournaments as me.”

Hansen believes his strengths are being steady in the backcourt, his overheads, and his speed. His lefty overhead makes it easier to attack the deuce side of the court. He said, “My philosophy on the court is to be steady, and wait and create the right opportunities that will play into our strengths and our opponents’ weaknesses. When we have the net, I’m usually trying to hit safe overheads that will create a short lob and then hit an aggressive slash overhead. That is my favorite shot—the slash overhead with heavy spin. It’s pretty satisfying when you hit it perfectly and it ends up being unreturnable. I have to wait for the right ball for this to happen though!”

Hansen’s love of competing in tournaments comes from a desire for a richer life. “It’s difficult for me to get strong practice matches in without driving a far distance. There are good players in my area, but a lot of people have busy schedules (including myself) and it can be difficult to get everyone out on the same night to get a good match in. Playing a lot of tournaments gives me competitive matches on a regular basis,” he said.

With an individual ranking of 42, Hansen said, “I would recommend traveling to tournaments to everyone! I think players will improve the most by getting out there and playing as often as possible against different styles on the court. If you only practice against the same people you’ll only know how to defend and beat one style of player.”

With a team ranking of 35 with Albrikes, Hansen is modest about his achievements. “I have had a lot of solid results this year. Detroit was a solid tournament. Andrew and I beat some strong teams there to finish 10th. I also had some good wins in Western New England, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati as well. In Short Hills, Mike and I took out some good teams in the back draw to finish 9th.”

2023-how-player-Dan with Jerry A at Shoreline Classic-500
Dan and Jerry Albrikes at Shoreline Classic

There isn’t one main reason for Hansen’s nomadic paddle lifestyle. “I just enjoy just being at the tournaments, competing, and hanging out. Paddle tournaments are the best atmosphere and are always a good time,” he declared.

Look for Dan Hansen at Nationals this year with Andre Ivarsson. He will be running a day paddle camp September 22-27 in Stonington, CT with Jerry Albrikes. Sign up at

Dan (far right) as 2022 Nashawtuc Champion

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