News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

June 10, 2014

College Report: Brazil’s Baysinger navigates college tennis waters

Garrett Baysinger of Brazil played his senior season of tennis at Rockville, one of the smallest high schools in the state to field a team in the sport.

In a sport dominated by foreign players for teams in both genders at most levels, the competition for any college roster spot is extremely difficult. Baysinger did well at Rockville and on the summer circuit and earned a spot on the team at Kaskaskia Junior College in Illinois.

Baysinger played extremely well for Kaskaskia last year, earning team Most Valuable Player honors and setting the stage to be able to continue his career past his final year of junior college competition.

“Garrett had a great first season of playing college tennis,” Kaskaskia coach Valjean Lueking said. “Playing at both No. 1 and No. 2 singles, he had very strong results against seasoned college players including victories at No. 1 against Belleville-Lindenwood.”

Kaskaskia is one of a small number of junior colleges which offers tennis, so finding matches against similar opponents is not easy. Kaskaskia played matches this year against a mixture of Division II, Division III, NAIA and other junior college teams.

“Considering the strong schedule that we play, Garrett quickly learned the speed of the game is considerably different than junior tennis,” Lueking said.  

Baysinger enjoyed the tough level of competition, and still has regrets several months afterward about letting one get away.

“We played a lot of [Division] II guys, and I should have won against one of them,” he said. “I lost in a third-set tiebreak. There were 20 mph winds, and it was a really tough day to play. It was fun to have such a great match against a higher level player.”

Like many college athletes, Baysinger entered the ramped-up world of college tennis not knowing what to expect. Sometimes in high school, opponents at such small schools may be virtual strangers to the game, but were coaxed to play just to fill out a roster spot. Road matches are sometimes held on cracked asphalt courts with more weeds than paint.

After an initial adjustment period, he figured things out pretty quickly and wound up with a 10-9 record at No. 1 singles — drawing the other team’s best player each time out.

“When you sign, you know that you can play, but I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what my place would be,” he said. “I wanted to have a very consistent first year and I felt like I did that.”

Self-confidence plays a key role for any successful athlete, and you can include Baysinger on that list.

“Every day I felt like I was the best player on the court and had that mindset regardless of who I was playing and put myself in a position to win every match,” he said. “That’s what you have to have.”

Kaskaskia sits on the west bank of the Mississippi River, with St. Louis sitting off in the distance.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “I love the college athlete lifestyle … studying, practice, going out with friends. It’s a very humbling thing, and now that I’m back home for the summer I don’t always appreciate it. The support from around Brazil, Terre Haute and Rockville has been great. People have been very supportive of me.”

Playing against higher level competition is good for junior college players, because they are potential future suitors. Baysinger is considering Millikin (Division III in Decatur, Ill.) and Brescia (NAIA in Owensboro, Ky.).

“I believe with a summer of playing strong competition he will be fully ready to join the returnees and new players for an even stronger team next season,” Coach Lueking said. “He will also be looked upon for a leadership role.”

 

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