Reid deLaubenfels, a player never meant to play for the Bulldogs, now leads the them, playing both singles and doubles on court one.
A Seattle native, deLaubenfels always planned to attend the University of Washington. It wasn’t until a shortcoming with the coach over scholarship money two days before signing his letter of intent that he made a visit to Fresno State.
“I ended up just loving the coach and the atmosphere down here,” deLaubenfels said. “It’s nice to get away from home.”
Evan Austin, Fresno State’s first-year head coach for the men’s tennis team, came to Fresno State with a small roster and only one player with any previous court-time.
“I knew he had some tools, and he was a bigger guy, but he serves big and he likes to hit his backhand,” Austin said. “I think he is one of those guys where if he can get his confidence going, he is a dangerous player.”
Majoring in sports marketing, deLaubenfels plans to become a sports agent once he graduates.
“It wasn’t originally a goal of mine to get to the pro level,” deLaubenfels said. “I always thought I was a good player but not quite at that level, but I’ve improved so much in the year I’ve been here and playing number one and having two wins against ranked opponents this season already. It’s always a possibility, but it isn’t something I’m really holding on to.”
He said he enjoys playing doubles more despite the recent changes to the rules for the college level. A new doubles partner has been found in the recent addition of Nikolas Papic, a transfer from Chile.
“I love playing with Niko,” deLaubenfels said. “I feel like we have chances to break serve every single game. We are both trying to help each other get better.”
DeLaubenfels played basketball until about age 9. His mother would take him once a month to hit the tennis ball around on the courts at a local school. One week of tennis lessons later was enough to ignite deLaubenfels’ interest in the sport.
“I got in the car and told my mom I wanted to quit basketball and start playing tennis,” deLaubenfels said. “She was shocked, but I ended up loving it. It has been my passion ever since.”
The Bulldogs, with deLaubenfels at the top of the ladder, are 2-7. The second half of the season involves many conference games.
“This season, we aren’t expected to be beating top -10 teams or make the NCAA tournament tournament, so the way we are going to make it into the tournament is by winning our conference,” he said.
“Now I’m here as a bulldog and I could not be happier.”