Young Wildcats facing steep learning curve (Men’s tennis)

Franklin Kao

Fifty percent. It’s the number of questions you miss when you fail a test, the share of free throws Shaq has missed in his career and the portion of Lacheys that were in 98 Degrees. It’s also the fraction of freshmen that made up Northwestern’s squad at the end of the fall season.

The Wildcats’ three freshmen, Andrew McCarthy, Peter Rispoli and David Seyferth, may have come from different places, but they’re all going through the same challenge: college tennis.

Though rising to the next level has its hardships, they said the upperclassmen have been supportive.

“It took a little adjusting at first, but I think now that we’re down to a pretty set schedule, you get into a routine of things, and it’s like I’ve been doing it forever,” Seyferth said. “(The upperclassmen make) it easier for the transition as far as learning how you go about your daily schedule for practice and matches.”

In addition to the help from their peers, the freshmen said the coaches have been vital for their adjustment to the tougher competition. Rispoli said the coaching staff – head coach Arvid Swan and assistant coach Chris Drake – is one of the best pairs he could have asked for.

While the freshmen are adapting well to the college tennis lifestyle, they said tennis has helped them adjust to the academic lifestyle as well. Seyferth and Rispoli both said tennis helps them stay disciplined and manage their time better during the school year.

Even with all the changes these freshmen had to go through, the players still have been able to contribute to the team.

Both Seyferth and Rispoli were undefeated in their doubles matches for the doubleheader last Sunday. Seyferth played No. 3 doubles with senior Juan Gomez and Rispoli paired up with graduate student Alexander Thams at No. 2.

McCarthy was not able to participate because he is recovering from an injury. Though McCarthy was inactive, he said his teammates have helped him stay positive throughout the process.

“It’s good to be a part of this team that I’m on because I’ve had so much support from my fellow teammates as well as my (coaches),” McCarthy said. “It’s important to not get stuck in the situation where you’re injured and feeling down. They’ve helped keep me positive … and I’m looking forward to make an impact on the team pretty soon.”

This weekend, NU plays two matches against Louisville and Ball State. The Cats face Louisville tonight and Ball State Sunday afternoon.

Even at this early stage of the season, the freshmen have already progressed and contributed for their new team. So what percentage of the freshmen do you think have impressed their new coach?

“All of them are really hard workers,” Swan said. “They all want to get better. I’m pleased with the effort that they put forth in practice everyday. They’re a really competitive group. I think all of them have a lot of potential to have very good careers at Northwestern.”

Reach Franklin Kao at [email protected]