We're extremely happy to have one of the currently best college tennis players give us his personal Top 5 reasons why he loves college tennis in today's Friday Scholarship Guide. You'll see that the team spirit and the mere fact of being part of a team in an individual sport like tennis have played a major role for Sebastian.
Sebastian Stiefelmeyer is the first male Austrian and University of Louisville player who has ever been ranked #1 in the ITA men's singles ranking. Thanks to a fabulous winning streak at the Saint Francis Health System ITA Men's All-American including wins over 2 Top 5 ranked players AND coming from the qualifying draw, he was able to get his pre-season ranking of #110 down to the #1 spot within four months (ITA Ranking: January 2015). Some weeks into the season he has an impressive 10/0 record at the #1 singles spot for the University of Louisville men's tennis team. Though he lost his #1 ranking to Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (University of Virginia) and is currently ranked #5 in the nation, the majority of the season is still yet to come and we're excited to see where he is heading.
Sebastian, in his senior year at college, about his very personal college experience:
Considering the playing season is in full swing, maybe not so surprising, "competitiveness" is what he mentions first. He highlights the competition you face day in day out, and "how bad everyone wants to win."
"You don't want to let down your teammates, you want to win at all costs, but still make it a fair competition. A lot of times, you want to win more for your team than for yourself. This is what adds to the pressure, because you don't want to be the guy who loses the deciding match, the clinching point."
Sebastian emphasizes the amount of travelling you get done throughout your college career as part of the tennis program:
Travelling is awesome because "you get to see a lot of places, which you'd most likely otherwise not get to see", particularly as an International. Occasions are plentiful, from away events, pre-season training trips, or championships and tournaments.
Playing for a DI school, he very much enjoys the benefits of being a well-equipped team in terms of gear.
"As a student-athlete, you get treated very well. This includes receiving a lot of sports stuff." Hoodies, t-shirts, shorts, socks, shoes, running shoes, beanies, gloves, or winter jackets..."
We have heard it before plenty of times, and we still couldn't agree more: College tennis creates friendships. Developed over months and years, they endure in good times (winning streaks) and get challenged in bad times (tight losses):
"Go to classes, go to practice, go out on the weekends, live together, travel with them, do everything with them, basically see them 24/7."
Sebastian adds: "You get to know each other better than your parents. You spend more time with them than with anyone else in your life. You go through some struggles, they get you mad, you upset them, but in the end it's all fine and it'll last forever. I think that's what only college (tennis) creates and maybe the military too, but you spend so much time together; it's a very unique friendship you create."
The final element of college tennis he loves are the workouts together.
"Going through the struggle and the pain together is definitely a memory, which will always be in my mind. I'm a 100% sure, a lot of the workouts I have been through here with my teammates, I couldn't have passed them on my own. But if I look around the gym, I look around the tennis courts when I run, and I see everyone suffering, I see we're all going through it together, and no one wants to be that guy that quits. And so no one quits."
"We see each other fighting, struggling for the same goal. And that just makes us all better because you get the best out of each other."
Louisville is currently ranked #38 (ITA ranking: February 24, 2015) with a common goal according to Sebastian: Making the last season at college a memorable one for the 6 seniors on the team. They feel they have even more in them than the current ranking reflects and are determined to reach the Top 20.
We are grateful for Sebastian sharing his college experience with us and wish him all the best for the rest of the season. We'd love to see our fellow Austrian return to the #1 spot again...
Feel like making just about the same college experience as Sebastian in any of the tennis divisions and conferences? Sign-up to Smarthlete, which will enable you to set up a complete profile, connect with college coaches, and be in the driver's seat in your effort for athletic scholarship money!