Men’s Tennis: Sam Shropshire is ready for the solitude of singles


Daily file photo by Zack Laurence

Sam Shropshire returns a shot. After seeing his team knocked out of the postseason, the sophomore will compete on his own in the NCAA Singles Championships.

Khadrice Rollins, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

Although the team’s season came to an end against eventual national runner-up Oklahoma, sophomore Sam Shropshire has one more tournament.

Shropshire, the No. 48 singles player in the country, earned an at-large bid to play in the NCAA Singles Championships, which start Wednesday in Waco, Texas.

“I feel good,” Shropshire said. “I had a couple good days of practice here, and back at school after the team competition we had some good practice also, so I feel ready.”

Shropshire was the top man for the Wildcats this season and played an integral role in their success. Not only did he play first singles all season, he and his doubles partner, senior Alex Pasareanu, took over the top doubles spot for Northwestern in mid-March.

During the season, Shropshire picked up 19 wins in singles, including a victory over the Big Ten’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships, Minnesota senior Leandro Toledo.

Shropshire has faced a fair number of the players in the tournament field throughout the season, but has not notched many wins against them. Harvard senior Denis Nguyen and Illinois junior Jared Hiltzik have both knocked off Shropshire twice this season. Besides Toledo, Duke senior Jason Tahir and Ohio State freshman Mikael Torpegaard are the only other players in the tournament Shropshire has defeated this season.

Despite not consistently beating this caliber of player, Shropshire’s experience against them has him feeling prepared.

“It definitely helps a lot,” he said. “A lot of guys I’ve played this year are going to be in this tournament. … If I get to play them, I’ll kind of know what to expect.”

Although Shropshire has a chance to benefit from matches that happened during the season, he also must adapt to being in an environment very different from what he dealt with during the season.

He is in a familiar yet foreign place, having to participate in a competition without any of his teammates there on the courts next to him or cheering him on from the sideline. But Shropshire does not seem to be phased by having to go out on his own without his fellow Cats around to support him.

“It’s a little bit different,” Shropshire said. “But it’s something I’m pretty used to doing during the summer and stuff… Tennis is the kind of sport where you have to do most things on your own anyway, so I’m kind of used to that.”

Coach Arvid Swan will join Shropshire for the week. Swan has taken advantage of this chance to work one-on-one with his player, and is getting him ready to compete against the nation’s best.

“Sam is a guy that I really enjoy coaching, and so I’ve really enjoyed spending time with him the past few days,” Swan said. “It has given me a chance to focus on him entirely.”

Although preparation has been a bit different for Swan because he does not have an entire team to train, he thinks Shropshire has no problem practicing without his teammates.

“Obviously it’s different,” Swan said. “But Sam’s approach, regardless of whether the team is with him or not, it’s a very good approach. He always prepares extremely well. It’s always nice to have the team behind you, but in this particular tournament, it’s more of an individual event. So he’s going to prepare just the same as if he had his teammates, and he’s going to be ready to go.”

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