Story and Photo by Taylor Soule
Their top priority? Topping 2013’s record-breaking trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Times-Delphic sat down with the three Drake men’s tennis newcomers to discuss their favorite professional players, the quirks of midwestern culture and their goals for the 2013-14 campaign.
Times-Delphic: Describe your first memory of playing tennis.
Ravi Patel: Mine was just at the local park with my dad.
Euan McIntosh: Yeah, probably just on the streets around my house.
Matt Frost: Mine was at a random sports camp. I was about 8.
TD: What professional players did you idolize growing up, and what did you like about their playing styles?
RP: I liked (Andre) Agassi, actually. He’s a bit smaller like me and turns well. He doesn’t have a big serve. Someone who is very similar to me.
EM: I liked (Marat) Safin at the time. He was a real character and had a really good, aggressive game style like mine.
I really idolized him, and at the moment, Andy Murray, because of the Scottish connection.
MF: Mine is Lleyton Hewitt because I love the way he fights, and he’s also quite loud like myself.
TD: Throughout your years playing tennis, were you ever tempted to throw in the towel and quit the game for good?
RP: I think everyone kind of goes through that stage. You can’t always win all the time, so when you lose, it could be a day or even a few minutes where you’re just like, ‘I’m not good enough,’ but I always find a way to come back.
MF: I’ve never ever said I was going to quit. You might think it, but I’ve never actually physically gone through with it.
EM: Yeah, it’s the same with me. You have bad days, but then you just think, ‘If I wasn’t playing tennis, I wouldn’t have anything to do in my day.’
TD: Did you grow up knowing you wanted to play college tennis, or did you have an epiphany at some point in your career that led you to that decision?
RP: I didn’t really know too much about college until about six months before I came. I knew it was an option to come, and I went on the Internet and looked at a few schools.
At the time, a few coaches contacted me and said I would be a good fit, but I never planned it.
EM: I had always known about it, but I always thought I would end up in Britain.
MF: Yeah, I found out about it from older people I knew that came, so I made up my mind about two years before that I wanted to come to college in America.
TD: What’s the biggest difference between tennis in the U.K. and tennis in the U.S.?
RP: You play as a team. That’d be the biggest thing. You play at college as a team, whereas back home, everything is always individual.
EM: The training, as well. It’s a lot more structured. You get a lot more fitness. It’s not just tennis.
TD: This isn’t about tennis, but what’s something about Americans or American culture that baffles you?
EM: The way Minnesotans say ‘bag’ like ‘beg.’
MF: Driving on the wrong side of the road.
TD: What are the perks of competing on a team with five other players from your home country?
RP: The support. If you are having a bad day or even if you’re having a good day, it doesn’t matter. They’re always there to support you no matter what. I know that might sound a bit cliché.
MF: It really helps you settle in, especially if you’re new. You know half the team already, all the people you come in with. It’s really easy to settle in.
RP: Also, you’re from the same coach, so you kind of do things similar. Same sense of humor, and it helps us get on really well as a team.
TD: What are your goals for your first season as a Bulldog?
MF: We definitely want to make NCAAs. We want to do as well as they did last year and then a bit better. And obviously win conference this year. Be better than our predecessors.