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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Growth of confidence translates into success on the court

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After a tough start to the season, the Marquette men’s tennis team has found its spark as of late.

While facing the DePaul Blue Demons, the back-to-back Big East champions, the Golden Eagles struck the match to break their 10-match losing streak, and that all started with first-year Thomas Nelson.

“It’s tough for the team as a whole to go 0-10,” Nelson said. “There were a couple matches in there where we told ourselves, ‘Okay we can win this match’ or ‘This opponent isn’t too bad.’ We would lose one way or another. It was like could we even end the losing streak with DePaul?” 

After Marquette narrowly won the doubles point, Nelson earned his first collegiate clinch with a tie-break win in a singles match at the No. 5 position, securing the team’s first win of the season.

“There’s so many emotions when that happens,” Nelson said reflecting on the moment. “It’s almost like you don’t even remember what happens afterward, but in the moment, it was really fun. It obviously meant a lot both to me and the rest of the guys.” 

To junior Ian Brady, Nelson’s doubles partner, it was a moment he will never forget.

“(It was) probably one of the happiest moments of my life,” Brady said. “Seeing him being able to get over the finish line there and do that for us, that was super special. I couldn’t stop hugging him after.” 

Over spring break, Marquette traveled to Orlando, Florida, where Nelson picked up his second collegiate clinch against Fairfield University March 16.

Head coach Steve Rodecap said that both wins showed Nelson’s true character on the court.

“I’m really happy for him within the group because he’s earning his badges as he goes,” Rodecap said. “He’s a gamer. That last match, he refused to lose because he had no energy left. He just hung around because he does not like to lose. When you have a gamer like that, that you know loves to play, you’re going to be in really good shape.” 

Currently, the Golden Eagles have won five matches in a row, while Nelson is on a personal six singles match winning streak.  

Although it took him a while to adjust to the collegiate level, Nelson said that his confidence has been boosted by his recent success.

“Now that I’ve gotten into the rhythm of winning matches, it’s helped my confidence a lot in terms of knowing that I can go out there and secure a win regardless of what is going on around me,” Nelson said.  

As Nelson has found his groove, it has come with trust and confidence from Brady and the rest of the team.

“Every time he goes out there, I’m like ‘Whatever number he’s playing, Thomas is there, that’s a win for us,’” Brady said. “He’s had a lot of tight matches so that shows when he’s out there, he really knows and thinks he’s going to get it done, which you don’t see a lot from someone as young as him.” 

Rodecap said that Thomas’ mindset towards growth has helped him immensely improve his game. 

“He’s made some nice adjustments there in being able to look a different way on the tennis court when things aren’t going your way,” Rodecap said. “The one thing is when someone will listen and they’re not scared to make those changes, knowing that you might not be successful in that moment, but you’re willing to do it. (That) is something he’s done very well.”

In regard to his doubles game, Nelson said that Brady’s extensive experience has made a huge impact on his own skills.

“He’s arguably the best doubles player on the team, so it’s been nice to have a guy on the court who knows what he’s doing,” Nelson said. “I went through my entire high school career playing three doubles matches, so playing high-level doubles matches is not something that I was really ready for. Having Ian out there who can carry some of the load is very helpful.”

Brady said the relaxed atmosphere between them has helped their chemistry thrive. 

“We have some good chemistry out there, and we have fun,” Brady said. “That’s a big part where we’re never too nervous or uptight. We’re having fun, we’re having a good time, we’re laughing. That’s super important for us because we’re staying loose and we’re playing good doubles.”  

As the season has progressed, Nelson said this carefree mentality is something he’s learned to apply in all areas of his game.

“Now that I’ve gotten into the groove of everything, I understand what’s required of me and what I need to do to win,” Nelson said. “I just go out there and say I have to play tennis. I try not to think about it’s college or high school or whatever. I’m just trying to go out and play.” 

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.  

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About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

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