Men's tennis bids farewell to three seniors

    As this spring quarter passes, three seniors on the UCSD men’s tennis team will come to the realization that with the conclusion of their undergraduate years comes the end of a significant part of their lives: collegiate tennis. Gone will be the days of intense practices, road trips and team camaraderie as they forge new paths.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    This year’s team will see its captain Michael Meyer, Sean Nagel and Doug Hofmann graduating with bachelor’s degrees in management science, biochemistry and mechanical and aerospace engineering, respectively.

    Their teammate, sophomore Bryan Swatt, knows the impact these seniors have had.

    “”As a core group of seniors, [Hofmann, Meyer and Nagel] provided a lot of leadership. They were always there to guide us and lead us inspirationally, especially in big matches,”” Swatt said.

    UCSD head coach Eric Steidlmayer will miss two of his first recruits, Nagel and Meyer.

    “”For them to win their last match of the year, to play together all year [in doubles], and have such a successful season was very fun for me to see. They both have been helpful in getting Triton tennis to a much higher level, and are the best of friends,”” Steidlmayer said.

    Hofmann is a transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College, bringing in two seasons’ worth of experience playing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles and also earning a top-10 ranking in California. Hofmann finished 6-4 in singles and is 3-1 in doubles in his two-year stint with the Tritons. Although he has not improved as much as he would have liked due to his demanding workload, he says he will miss his teammates. His contribution to the team will be missed.

    “”He has provided a steady influence on our team,”” Steidlmayer said. “”He was not able to get as much time as he would like in the starting lineup this year, but had a great fall season, breaking into the rankings as one of the top 50 players in the nation. He is a tremendous student … I think that he will do very well in whatever he chooses.””

    This MAE major plans to stay at UCSD to pursue his M.S. in material science and later earn his Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cal Tech. Hofmann has set his sights on becoming an astronaut for NASA.

    Nagel was a doubles specialist during his tenure at UCSD. He wrapped up his college career with a record of 28-12 in doubles and 7-7 in singles. As a Triton, he feels his game has changed a lot with each year. He says that he has learned to hit the ball harder, end points sooner, strengthen his serve and develop a bigger forehand shot.

    Nagel says he will miss the competition and camaraderie, and plans to watch the men’s tennis program improve when he graduates.

    This talented doubles player has come a long way and his presence will be missed.

    “”Sean really improved quite a bit throughout his junior and senior seasons,”” Steidlmayer said. “”I give him a lot of credit for reshaping not only his tennis but also other aspects of his life. He should only be a winner.””

    Nagel will head off to study law this fall.

    Michael Meyer, captain of the tennis team since his sophomore year and the heart and soul of the team, almost passed up UCSD when he was offered a full ride at Santa Clara University. Fortunately for the Tritons, UCSD’s proximity to the beach, the good academic program and Steidlmayer convinced him that he belonged in San Diego.

    Anyone who has followed Meyer these past four years and observed his leadership, his intensity and his level of play will know what Meyer meant to his team. Meyer played every match like his last, always pushing himself farther, injecting the will to win into the rest of his teammates.

    “”Mike is the best competitor I’ve been associated with,”” said UCSD assistant coach Seth Mikkelson. “”Even though he didn’t come up with as many wins as he would’ve liked to [this season], he still keeps everyone else winning because he is that competitive and everyone wants the last match to come down to him because they believe he can win it.””

    He ends his career with a record of 34-22 in singles and 43-15 in doubles. Voted team MVP twice, National Collegiate Athletic Association West Region Rookie of the Year and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship are among the awards he has garnered in his tenure. He has also played an enormous role in the success of men’s tennis in its move to Division II in 2001, leading them into postseason play every year.

    “”Mike has had the biggest impact on the program in my time here due to his consistency in play, his ability to work for every point and his desire to improve,”” Steidlmayer said. “”He is a tremendous athlete overall … I can’t say enough about him.””

    Meyer says he will miss the road trips, Steidlmayer, his teammates and the competitive matches. He will attend summer school and spend the second half of the summer playing tennis in Europe with teammate Sameer Chopra. He plans to study law and coach a tennis team some time in the future.

    Each of these men crafted their own remarkable imprint on the UCSD tennis program, leaving a legacy that will be a challenge to follow.

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