Men’s Tennis: Graves talks future plans and Northwestern memories

Steven Montero

Senior Josh Graves lived up to his name this season and buried the past. Northwestern’s 2010 and 2011 seasons left the Wildcats with victories over a total of four Big Ten opponents. This year NU went 7-4 in conference matches and Graves led the Cats at the No. 1 singles spot, posting a 17-14 record. Since his outbreak year at NU, when he thundered in with a 25-8 record, the Cats hadn’t made the NCAA Championships. In his final year, the Milwaukee native battled injury and stiff competition to ensure a return to the tournament and a cap to his collegiate career. The Daily caught up with the Weinberg senior to talk about his experiences, future and the mysteries behind coach Arvid Swan.

Daily: How was your final season and what did it bring to you?

Josh Graves: It was great to make the NCAA tournament again my senior year. It’s always a long season. We start in January, finish in May. We had some ups and downs, but I thought we improved as a team, and I’m just happy with the way we finished, Spencer and I getting a big win in doubles. For me personally, playing through some injuries throughout was a challenge. Especially since I wasn’t able to practice a full schedule of practice because of limitations, but I thought I handled it pretty well and was able to get through it pretty well.

Daily: What do you think of NU’s progress this year?

Graves: It’s a huge improvement. My sophomore and junior year it was tough. We didn’t do as well in the Big Ten, and this year we went 7-4. The big part of it was doubles. We got a lot of the doubles points. Everyone competed better than they had in the past.

Daily: Where do you see NU next year after you will have graduated?

Graves: They’re going to do well again. They have some good guys coming here. They have guys from Norway, some American players (coming in as freshmen). Maturing guys will be great and Arvid will continue keeping the guys working hard. The program is definitely on a good track.

Daily: What’s next after graduation?

Graves: I’m going to keep playing for a while, and I’m going to give it a shot, keep trying to improve my game. I’ve chosen to stay mostly in the U.S. and play the tournament schedule and see how it goes.

Daily: Is there anything interesting about the team the general public doesn’t know yet?

Graves: (Arvid Swan) only listens to pop music in the car, and he has probably one of the best 20-foot jumpers out of any coach, besides maybe the basketball coach. And he lives vicariously through Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Daily: What’s your favorite spot on campus?

Graves: I’d say the Lakefill, looking out on the water and the city at night. Not to be too corny but that’s a great view, a great spot that Northwestern has.

Daily: What’s the best tennis match you’ve ever played?

Graves: I have to think about that. I don’t know if I really have an answer to that one. The most rewarding have been the three-all matches that I was able to clinch the match. They haven’t necessarily been my best performances. Mentally my freshman year when we played Minnesota, it was three-all and I was down 3-1 in the final set, and I decided I was going to come back and fight my way back. Mentally that was one of my best performances.

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