Men’s Tennis: NU falls 7-0 at home to Notre Dame

Franklin Kao

Age can rarely make things better, especially in sports. But there have been a few special cases, like Brett Favre, in which it has.

Northwestern’s Alexander Thams is another exception to the rule. The 22-year old is playing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles as the only graduate student on the team.

Thams is from Sweden and has come to NU to earn a master’s in public policy while at the same time writing his thesis for the law degree he has almost completed back home.

“I’ve been looking for a great academic institution as well as a good tennis team and good coaches,” Thams said. “The choice just fell on Northwestern because I know it’s one of the best academic institutions in the world. It (has) a classic team and great history. I really liked the coaches (after) talking to them.”

Thams has been thriving in his tennis career at NU as well, going 2-2 in singles and 4-1 in doubles so far in dual play.

After Thams joined the team in January, coach Arvid Swan had him play in the No. 1 spot right away.

“I was, first of all, honored,” Thams said. “It’s pretty cool coming here as a new player playing (No. 1) singles. At the same time I felt a lot of pressure. I want to make an impact on this team and playing (the) first or second spot is a lot of responsibility.”

Though Thams is doing well at NU both in the classroom and on the courts, he has had to make some adjustments to get used to things here.

Sophomore captain Alex Sanborn said Thams was used to playing on clay courts in Sweden, which are slower than the indoor courts at NU. Thams is working to adjust by driving through the ball, hitting flatter shots and getting a bigger serve.

Besides adjusting in the tennis world, Thams has been adapting to a new lifestyle as well. Thams said it is necessary to have a car in America because it is harder to get around without Sweden’s public transit.

Thams’s new teammates have been there to help him along the way. Sanborn said the team has been introducing him to friends and hanging out with him, which has helped him assimilate to the new surroundings.

Even though he’s on a young squad – his doubles partner, freshman Pete Rispoli, is three years younger than he is – Thams said he does not feel like his age has set him apart from his teammates.

“I don’t feel like they’re so young, because we’re still on a team and everyone contributes the same way,” Thams said. “As an older person, I think I need to show more responsibility and maturity.”

Swan said Thams a very high quality player who should make a big contribution for the team this year.

Thams, along with the other Wildcats, will face off against No. 11 Notre Dame (3-1) on Thursday in the Combe Tennis Center. NU (4-1) will have its hands full with the Fighting Irish, whose only dual loss was to No. 1 Virginia.

Reach Franklin Kao at [email protected]