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Columbia tennis player set to compete on Jeopardy

March 30, 2018 08:46 AM

This 2.5 tennis player from Columbia, South Carolina was picked to be a contestant on Jeopardy.

Who is Michelle Mueckler?

Correct.

Mueckler was practicing with her doubles partner at the Combo Doubles Southern Sectional Championships in Mobile, Alabama when she saw a phone call notification pop up on her Apple Watch.

It was a number from California, where the Jeopardy! studio is located.

“I answered the phone and it was one of the producers asking if I could come out to L.A.,” said Mueckler.

She will be a contestant on the show set to film April 2.

Mueckler had passed the online test last Fall and auditioned in Charlotte in February, so her teammates knew there was a possibility she would get an invitation to be a contestant on the show. 

“While I was on the phone they were singing the Jeopardy! song in the background. And there were other people on the practice court while I was on the phone who could tell what was going on. They were all just so, so excited—as was I.”

 

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Mueckler and her team pose at the at the Combo Doubles Southern Sectional Championships in Mobile, Alabama, March 9-11. From left to right: Christ Davis (Captain), Leslie Doerr, Lauren Howard, Shannon Martin, Corrie Campbell, Molly Dougall and Mueckler.

 

Mueckler didn’t have high expectations for getting a call, especially not as soon as she did.

Jeopardy! tells those who audition that they might receive a phone call within 18 months. Mueckler got her call less than a month after her audition. She was also surprised to have gotten a call because this was her first time taking the online test or auditioning; many people go through the process multiple times and never hear anything back, Mueckler said.

“When we were at sectionals, I was talking to one of my teammate’s husbands during the matches we were watching on Friday morning. He was asking if I thought I’d get a call.”

She told her him later that weekend after she’d gotten the news: “I think you reversed jinxed me by asking me about it.”

But her family and friends weren’t surprised she got an invitation to be on the show. “For some of them this is something I probably should have done a long time ago,” she said, chuckling.

Compared to many of the show’s contestants – who often come from education or research backgrounds – Mueckler said she felt like a bit of an anomaly. She doesn’t credit her position as a full-time mom or her prior work in sales.

“I’m a reader. I’ve always read, and I read everything,” said Mueckler, who’s almost 50. “It caters to my interest, which is very much trivial knowledge—knowing a little about a lot of things, but a lot about nothing.”

She said she was a high-achieving student and “always just retained little factoids.”

And while Mueckler has always been a fan of the show, it was the encouragement from her two children, who are 6-year-old and 12-year-old competitive swimmers, that pushed her to take the online test. Mueckler said the three watch Jeopardy! on weeknights they aren’t at swim practice. When advertisements for the online test showed, her kids would say, “Mom! You know all the answers. Sign up, sign up!”

Mueckler, who has been playing tennis for about four years, said having her teammates around her made getting the call even more special.

The Kiss My Ace team has been together for two years and plays out of Wildewood Country Club in Columbia. Mueckler also captains a 2.5 Spring league. For both teams the philosophy is simple: Have a good time.

“We’re not making money. We’re not going to Wimbledon. The goal is to have fun.”

The team finished 1-4 at the sectionals tournament and Mueckler went 1-2. But the weekend was more than just wins and losses.

The tournament finished early because of the threat of rain. Instead of going home, the team decided to spend the rest of the weekend bonding in the city, complete with a fancy brunch and spa day.

“It couldn’t have made for a better weekend. Our team would have had fun regardless, but this certainly was the icing on the cake.”

 

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In the first picture, Mueckler and her teammates enjoy brunch after the Sectional Combo Doubles Championship in Mobile, Alabama. The second picture shows Mueckler (left) and her teammate Shannon Martin (right) after winning their match the evening Mueckler got the call from Jeopardy! producers.

 

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