Setbacks don’t stop captain from helping team

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first_imgWhen Jeremy Sonkin arrived at Wisconsin four years ago toplay tennis, he was facing high expectations and was immediately thrust into ahigh-pressure situation.As a freshman, he was asked to play in the second singlesposition, a daunting task for a young player.“I was kind of the youngster amongst a bunch ofupperclassmen, and it was really kind of intimidating at first,” Sonkinsaid. “In such a short time I was asked to really be a person to followand set an example.”How did he respond to such a challenge? By posting 24 wins,the highest win total for any player on the team that season. In his secondseason, he was named one of the captains of the team, evidence of his abilityas a leader and a player.“By my sophomore year I really felt that I was of theability to be in the captain position, just from already playing at such a highlevel my freshman year and kind of experiencing some of the country’s besttalent,” Sonkin said. “I really felt ready to handle the leadershipposition and do a good job motivating my teammates.”He followed up his freshman effort with a similarperformance, posting a 25-11 record. However, he played solely at the No. 1singles position throughout the season.After the impressive opening seasons, Sonkin hit a roughspot in what appeared to be the beginning of a very promising career. He wasthe victim of an unfortunate accident where he was hit by a car while ridinghis moped. While he was recovering and unable to participate in matches, hestruggled with the idea of not being able to travel and contribute to the team.“It was really a different perspective for meconsidering a lot of my support was done from the sideline, and I could nottravel with the team,” Sonkin said. “College tennis is all about theteam and helping pull one another through tough matches and rough spots, so forme it was very, very hard not to be able to at least be there to support myteam.”With his injury and the addition of some new young players,Sonkin saw a decreased role on the team, fluctuating between the first andthird singles positions. He finished the season with a sub-standard record of9-12, and his position for his senior season was up in the air.Now a senior, Sonkin has once again been named captain, buthe finds himself as the No. 4 singles player for the team. Despite thedifficulties in adjusting from first singles to fourth singles, he has beenable to maintain a positive attitude and a team-first mentality.“It was a very hard adjustment,” Sonkin said.“A lot of times it was really evident that it bothered me, and it’s beensuch a learning experience for me. I had to forget about the past, forget aboutwhere I was, even as a junior, and I just had to realize that at this point intime, its not about me. You’re on a team, and you’re all in this together, sono matter where you are in the lineup, it’s all about getting that point tohelp the team win.”Head coach Greg Van Emburgh has been delighted with the waySonkin has dealt with his changing role on the team.“I think he’s grown tremendous amounts not only as aplayer but as a person,” Van Emburgh said. “He’s really starting tocome into his full stride right now as we get into the real important part ofour season. … He’s had a lot of setbacks with injuries, but Jeremy is thetype of kid who really fights through those obstacles and adversities and keepsa positive look on everything.”Though he started off the season playing poorly, losing sixof his first eight matches, Sonkin has found himself with a renewed sense ofconfidence late in the season and is now playing better tennis, winning five ofhis last seven matches.“Jeremy’s done whatever the team has asked of him. He’swon some big matches, and he hasn’t complained,” senior Nolan Polley said.“He’s been playing really well these past couple months, and I’m hopingthat he can keep it up and we can finish out strong.”Sonkin is also very excited about the way he has beenplaying of late, as he has come into his own in the fourth singles position.“Maybe me being the four is a blessing,” Sonkinsaid. “Maybe that’s a spot now that we know we can always get a win atbecause I feel like now with my confidence back, I should not be losing toanybody in this country playing No. 4 in singles, given my experience, mytalent and how much I want to win and how much I hate losing.”Sonkin’s resurgence on the court has been accompanied by thesuccess of the team as a whole. The team has gone 11-3 over its last 14 gamesand is now vying for second place in the Big Ten.“Quite truthfully, we have players who do an incrediblejob at the 1-3 positions, who are really proving that they deserve to be inthose spots, and they’ve been showing that match after match,” Sonkinsaid. “Knowing that, it takes more pressure off of me just because I’m soconfident that they’re up there and they’ve been doing well.”Even if he is no longer playing in first position, Sonkinknows what it takes to win and has welcomed his new role on the team with openarms. He has been a big contributor to the success of the team and he willcontinue to be a key factor in the teams’ success as they approach theculmination of this season.last_img

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