Helena Van Eysendeyk is among the 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame class.
Editor’s Note: The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized at California University’s signature fundraiser, the Bow Ties & Pearls Ball, set for June 29 in the Cal U Convocation Center. The event is open to the public; proceeds benefit scholarships for Cal U students and legacy projects on campus. More information is available at calu.edu/bowtiesball.
Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and California, Pa., are all places Helena Van Eysendeyk has called home, and that’s just fine for the fourth women’s tennis player in school history to earn Cal U Hall of Fame of Fame honors.
Through favorable and informative emails with former women’s tennis head coach Pablo Montana, Van Eysendeyk came to Cal U from overseas and helped the Vulcans win the first three of an unprecedented 10 straight PSAC championships from 2007 through 2016.
As a freshman, she helped Cal U compile a 28-2 overall record and win its first PSAC team championship since 1993. Van Eysendeyk compiled a 30-2 overall singles record and 29-2 doubles record as Cal U reached the NCAA Division II quarterfinals.
In 2007-2008, Van Eysendeyk posted a 36-3 singles record and 33-3 doubles mark as the Vulcans repeated as conference champion, returned to the national quarterfinals and were ranked fifth in the final NCAA national poll. Her doubles partner that season was Inga Chilingaryan Babakhanyan ´06, ´07, ´08, a 2018 Cal U Hall of Fame inductee
Van Eysendeyk led the Vulcans to a 23-3 overall record her senior season with another PSAC championship and appearance in the national quarterfinals.
She compiled a 26-2 overall record in singles competition in 2009 to finish with a 92-7 singles career mark. Her doubles career record following a 30-6 senior season was 92-11.
Her career singles wins and winning percentage (.929) remain school records as does her doubles winning percentage (.893) while her doubles career wins rank third.
During her three seasons with Vulcans tennis, Van Eysendeyk helped the program compile a 77-8 cumulative record, which also included trips to the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Cal U in 2007 and her MBA in 2009.
“If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t hesitate a minute,” Van Eysendeyk said about coming to Cal U. “I left there with two degrees, a better level of English, experiences and great memories.
“When I came back to Europe looking for a start in my career, I could basically do whatever I wanted because Cal U gave me a brilliant resume.”
Montana, who is now the men’s tennis head coach at NCAA Division I Delaware University, said Van Eysendeyk was an integral part of the tennis success.
“Through her hard work and by example she made each of her teammates better and was one of the few women’s tennis players who had every game style at her disposal,” Montana recalled. “She was also an amazing student and she truly represents everything a student-athlete should.”
Van Eysendeyk and Babakhanyan join Monica DiNatale-Bach ´94 (2002) and multisport star Margaret Wilkinson-Neill ´32 (1996), as the only women’s tennis Hall of Fame honorees.
“Inga and I had different styles but were a tremendous doubles team,” Van Eysendeyk said. “She is a great person and a great friend. I am honored to join her in the Hall of Fame and I hope more and more women’s tennis players get this honor.
“I am very excited to come back to Cal and see all the changes. I am a bit nervous that I will not recognize everyone but I am sure seeing faces will make memories come back.”
Born in Leuven, Belgium, Van Eysendeyk grew up in several different towns in France, Germany, and Switzerland.
She graduated with an International Baccalaureate from Zurich (Switzerland) International School in 2003 where she excelled in five different sports. At Zurich she was a three-time International School Sports Tournament (ISST) tennis singles champion and starter on the two-time ISST champion soccer team.
Before coming to Cal U, she earned a degree in tourism from the University of Montpellier in France.
Van Eysendeyk resides in Poisy, France, where she is in a civil partnership with Marine Choquard. After several years working for prominent banks and insurance companies, she is an air traffic controller for Skyguide, an air navigation service provider. Van Eysendeyk also still plays competitively with the Pringy Tennis Club.
While she left the business world Van Eysendeyk credits Cal U for giving her an array of professional possibilities.
“I realized that business didn’t really fit my personality but my education at Cal U allowed me to have all doors open for my professional career,” she said. “Cal U gives me safety because every day I know I have, am prepared, and can do many professional options.”