The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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MAY 2017 ■ 19 TRACKING THE PACK NC State senior men's tennis player Nick Horton is known for his good sense of humor and has carved out a quality career in his four years in Raleigh. Horton, who is from Sydney, Australia, was named All-ACC his junior year and finished ranked No. 64 in singles after going 22-10, plus he was 14-16 in doubles action. Horton had 83 career victories through April 6, posting an 18-11 mark his senior year while also going 10-7 in doubles with Alexis Galarneau. Horton, who is majoring in commu- nication, speaks English, a little Serbian and French, with the latter his minor at NC State. He recently sat down with The Wolfpacker to discuss his path to Raleigh, his senior year and his long-term plans. What was the recruiting process like for you to attend NC State? "It started off by my manager, who was helping me about the recruiting process and college ten- nis, created a list of about 50 schools. From there, I picked where I wanted to be as far as location. I didn't want to be in the cold, so that got rid of about 20-25 schools. I emailed the remaining 25 schools, and the ones that got back to me was about 10 of them. "From there, I organized recruiting trips and there were some events in Australia where American col - lege coaches come and speak to you. So there were four or five that came to speak to me there. I or- ganized my recruiting trips and visited four or five schools, and NC State was the one that checked the most boxes for me as far as location, coaches, guys on the team, and education and scholarship. It was an easy decision from there." How much more have you learned about NC State that reinforced your initial instincts? "I've learned quite a lot. After traveling to other schools, you get to see their campuses and the city, and the guys on the teams. After every year that passes, you realize you made the right decision. Of course there were ups and downs and you question it, and that first year you have the typical [home sick - ness]. It took about until your junior year that you realized you picked the right school. "It's just a massive change culturally and the en- vironment as well, but I've stayed four years and I couldn't be happier with my decision." Who have you leaned on during those tough times when you were younger? "There were a bunch. Some of them are still here now and some have graduated. Some are from here and some are foreign as well. I couldn't name just one, but that is probably a large part of how I've got- ten through here with having great friends. They were here to support me." What are your long-range goals involving your communications major? "I would love to be a traveling journalist, whether it be freelance or working for a company. I just love traveling and I love learning about other cultures and sharing cultures with other people, and languages. "I would love to write about that and try to under- stand other people. That is a real passion of mine." How is your approach different when you play singles compared to playing doubles? "In singles, I try to be really aggressive and try to get to the net as much as possible. I think one of my strengths is my net game. I'm pretty good at playing to the weaknesses [of my opponent] and making him pretty uncomfortable. Shot selection and getting to the net are my strengths. "In doubles, I just try to take as many balls at the net as I can. I'm pretty aggressive in doubles. I'm just looking for every single opportunity to hit the tennis ball in doubles." What are some of your favorite highlights playing tennis at NCSU? "I beat a guy [Josh Hagar] in [No. 1] singles who is ranked No. 45 in the country from Notre Dame, 6-0, 6-1. That is for sure one of my singles highlights. It was pretty much the best match I've played in a long time. "I also had a pretty good match last year in the ACCs against a high-ranked guy, [No. 6-ranked] Thai- Son Kwiatkowski of Virginia. I beat him in straight sets. In doubles, I won regionals that sent me to New York, but we didn't go because my partner was injured two years ago. "I can't say I've had a team accomplishment that I'm really satisfied with, so I'm really hoping we can do something this season. We've had great wins, but I think we underachieved my three years here. I hope we can do something special this year. "I've made a lot of friends outside of tennis as well, but for sure, most of my closest friends are on the team. This is the closest that the team has been in four years. There isn't one guy on the team that is an outlier, and that is usually really rare I've learned. "Just as captain the last few years, I've really em - phasized that, making it feel like a family. We'll prob- ably be best friends for life. I spend 95 percent of my time with these guys." Is there a big gap between playing ranked players and unranked opponents? "The gap is not that big at all. I beat a guy that is 50 spots ahead of me quite convincingly, but then I've lost to guys ranked behind me. I think the bottom line is that it is super competitive. "I think there is a gap with the top 10 guys that stand out." What are your memories of growing up watching the Australian Open? "I've watched every year on TV and have been there two or three times to watch matches. I have non-stop memories, but not one that just stands out. I've been so lucky to have a Grand Slam in my country and not that far away from my hometown. "I was also fortunate enough to play the junior Australian Open and play on the same courts as the big names." Who has inspired you? "My grandpa Malcolm Bergmann for sure. He grew up with tennis. He grew up playing with guys like Ken Rosewell and Rod Laver. He grew up with all the big Australian tennis names. "I got to meet all those great Australian tennis players when they would play at my grandpa's ten - nis court." — Jacey Zembal Getting To Know: Senior Nick Horton ■ Men's Tennis Quick Questions What is the go-to meal back home? I just love food and will eat literally anything, and I love cof- fee. I love getting bacon and egg sandwiches with barbecue sauce. Who would you like to see in concert? Eminem. Favorite tennis player? Roger Federer. If you didn't go to NC State, where would you have gone? Somewhere in California, where I could surf. What sport would you like to try? I grew up horse riding, but I wouldn't want to do that any - more. I would love to be a rugby player even though I'm small. Favorite class at NC State? I took a survey of rhetoric class in communications. What is a hidden talent or something that people don't know about you? I love space. I love reading about the universe. What athlete at NC State do you enjoy watch- ing? Stephen Elias in men's soccer. Do you have a favorite tennis trick shot? I like to turn my tennis racquet around and use it as a cricket bat. Any routines you have with your tennis rac- quet? I have to have a fresh grip and fresh strings all the time, or else it plays in my head a little bit. It has to be new and spick and span as possible. Horton earned All-ACC honors as a junior last year and had 83 career victories at NC State through April 6. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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