Warstler looks back on hard-fought career

Aimee Galaszewski

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Alex Warstler attempts a forehand at practice in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Every athlete has their own unique path to success. For senior Alex Warstler, it hasn’t been easy during his collegiate career. In his four seasons on the Marquette men’s tennis team, Warstler has gone from battling through injuries to fighting for playing time.

“I had to work my butt off,” Warstler said. “I remember freshman year looking at the depth of our team and was like, ‘Well, I might not be playing a lot, but I’m going to work as hard as I can.’ But I learned a lot of lessons through that. You don’t have to play to have an impact. It’s about your attitude, how you go about supporting the team and giving it your all during every practice.”

Head coach Steve Rodecap praised Warstler’s work ethic and leadership.

“He put himself in a position to push the bottom of the lineup a little bit,” Rodecap said. “Warstler was a team guy. He put a lot of time and effort trying to make the guys around him better. He was a voice of reason.”

Playing tennis wasn’t initially a part of the plan, as Warstler said his mom advised him against pursuing the sport.

“My mom played collegiate tennis for the University of Tennessee,” Warstler said. “She never wanted me to play tennis because she knew the time commitment it took to get where she was.”

His tennis journey began when he was just 11 years old.

“I started playing more and more and more, and I actually barely made my middle school team in sixth grade,” Warstler said. “From there, I progressed and was eventually the No. 1 player in high school.”

One of the primary reasons Warstler chose Marquette was because he was interested in a specific academic program.

“Originally, I wanted to go to Marquette because I wanted to become a physical therapist,” Warstler said. “I also really liked the team and the coaching staff, so all those factors combined led me to come to Marquette.”

Despite not seeing a lot of playing time on the court with the Golden Eagles, Warstler said the excellence of his teammates prevented him from seeing more court time.

“It’s hard to get into that lineup,” Warstler said. “I could’ve probably top one, two or three for Xavier, but for Marquette, you have some really talented guys.”

Warstler’s senior season was not only derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was also impacted by injuries.

“This year kind of sucked,” Warstler said. “I injured my back in the preseason, which was another challenge for me, and now you got the coronavirus.”

The Cincinnati native said it’s frustrating that the season was ultimately canceled, but he understands it’s for the best.

“Us four seniors have been through so much,” Warstler said. “This was the year where we felt like our team was really, really strong. We believe we could’ve won the BIG EAST (Tournament) and maybe even make an impact in the NCAA Tournament.”

Rodecap said the seniors — Brett Meyers, Brandon Shanklin, Luke Smrek and Warstler — represented the program on a championship level every single day.

Warstler’s best season was during his junior year when he won the program’s Most Improved Player award.

Looking back, Warstler said one of his favorite moments at Marquette was the last match he got to play against the University of Illinois at Chicago. With their teammates cheering them on, Shanklin and Warstler won the doubles point to lead the Golden Eagles to a victory over the Flames.

“I was sitting next to coach during a practice earlier in the week and I go, ‘Coach, I know my back is messed up, but I’ve been putting in a lot of work towards getting this thing better. Would you allow me to go and play one more match?'” Warstler said. “He said yes, so I had the opportunity to go out there and clinch the doubles point.”

As of right now, Warstler said he does not plan on taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility for spring athletes offered by the NCAA.

“My goal is to enter the workforce and move on in my career, but my four years of tennis have been great,” Warstler said.

Warstler said he will be interning during the summer in Cincinnati focusing on investment banking. After that, however, he said there is a question mark.

“I’ve been applying for investment banking jobs, equity research and finance two-year rotational programs,” Warstler said. “The future is up in the air right now.”

This article was written by Tyler Peters. He can be reached at tyler.peters@marquette.edu or on Twitter @_tylerpeters_.