Coming to Ohio State as a highly recruited player and knowing the tennis program was in a slump, what were your expectations?
“I thought I would be in the lineup. I knew how important it was to play your first year in college and get the experience. That was all I wanted and so far it’s going pretty well.”
Why did you choose to come to Ohio State over Illinois and Michigan State?
“It was closer to home and they offered me the best scholarship. At that time the team wasn’t doing very well but that didn’t bother me. Coach Ty Tucker runs the on-court drills really well. After watching a few of their practices I knew it was intense. I wanted to play the first year. I think Ohio State is a really good team. We are not the biggest, strongest or most overpowering team but we play with heart.”
Was it an eye-opener for you coming off winning the state championships in high school to coming here and getting kicked around a little bit?
“Well, actually the year before winning the state championships I got kicked around all over the place. It was really good for my confidence to win the state championship. Last season I wouldn’t really say I was kicked around. I felt like I was right there with everybody. I played a wide variety of players and I felt like I was there against all of them. It’s good to lose. It was really good for me to lose this year. You learn a lot more from your losses. Dual matches are so important because you are not only playing for your individual record but you also want the team to win.”
What were your goals for last season?
“I wrote some goals down but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. It is a lot different than the juniors. I was hoping to be ranked in the Top 100 and have a winning record in the Big Ten. As for the team I wanted us to be ranked in the Top 3 in the Big Ten and have a winning record.”
After finishing your freshman year, what would you say to an incoming freshman?
“It’s good to set your goals high because its something you can work for but you’ve got to realize that its a lot different between the juniors. It’s just a different atmosphere and level of tennis. If you don’t reach your goals, it’s okay as long as you’re improving. I don’t know how you could not improve.”
Why did you start playing tennis?
“I just picked up a racquet and my grandmother has a court in her backyard. I liked it from the beginning. I hit all day long when I was a little kid against the garage door, it was like a second home. The neighbors hated it. I made a lot of noise. I missed the garage of course and the siding got banged up. We had duct tape all over the house.”
When did you realize you wanted to play professionally?
“I was thinking about it last year but this year I wish I could just put all of my eggs in one basket and concentrate on it. I don’t know what I’ll do with my life if I don’t make it. It’s frustrating at times. I just want to make it so bad. Nothing would be greater than traveling around playing tennis all the time for a job.”
Do you have a tennis idol?
“Pete Sampras. I like his demeanor on the court. He’s the man. He has a complete game. I like his strokes, everything except his backhand. I like my backhand. I would take everything else that he has. Pete’s not flashy in the media eye but he gets the work done.”
What do you think about your family support?
“It’s great. I don’t tell them that too much because I’m a kid. They came to every single match. From the very beginning when I started playing tennis they were great. They went to every tournament I played in. They sacrificed so much for me, especially having three other siblings. My whole family has sacrificed for me. It’s not only the expenses but also the effort they put in for me. It’s unreal what they have done for me. I don’t ever tell them that but it’s true.”
Is there anything you would like to tell other members of your team?
“Actually, Bob Wellstein and Chris Porter did a really good job as captains. Tennis is an individual sport. College is different though. I really admire them for motivating not only themselves up but also getting us into it. That can’t be easy, I give them a lot of credit for that.”