Less than a year after he decided to transfer from Augusta University in Georgia, Thomas Sevel is confident he made the right choice.
“Every day I’m here, I find myself really happy to wake up,” the junior said. “When I first came to the U.S. I didn’t want to spend all four years at the same place. I wanted to discover as much as possible here.”
Sevel, who is from Yvelines, France — just west of Paris — said finding a school that could offer him a full scholarship was one of the most important factors when he was deciding where to continue his education and his tennis career. He originally received a full scholarship from Augusta, a Division II school, but learned he would receive less money after he went 5-10 in singles in his freshman season.
He went a perfect 14-0 in his sophomore season at Augusta.
Sevel said he was on good terms with Augusta coach Michael McGrath, but he felt like it was time to move on from a school that did not have more money to offer him after a standout year.
“You can understand that based on how I played that I could go to another school and get more scholarship money,” Sevel said. “I liked it [at Augusta]. I just felt I needed to look at better offers.”
Augusta granted Sevel a permission-to-contact letter, allowing him to explore options for the 2016-17 season.
He reached out to Temple, St. Mary’s College of California, Youngstown State University and Fairleigh Dickinson University, ultimately choosing to join the Owls because he felt it was the best school for both tennis and academics.
Sevel has transitioned well to the Division I level. He has an 11-6 singles record and 8-7 doubles mark, mostly with sophomore Florian Mayer as his partner. Sevel regularly plays as the second or third seed in both singles and doubles.
“Playing Division II is really good, but sometimes you can get away with a bit more at that level,” coach Steve Mauro said. “The players in Division I are sometimes just a little more consistent.”
When he’s not on the court, Sevel likes to keep himself busy. He is a business management major and likes video games and playing the piano, but sometimes he doesn’t get to participate in his outside interests as much as he’d like.
“My mother was visiting while I was still at Augusta and bought me a keyboard for me to play in my dorm,” Sevel said. “When I transferred I had to take all of my stuff back to France and now I don’t have it with me in the U.S. anymore. I’m still considering bringing it back next semester.”
However, his interest in video games has grown since arriving with the Owls. Sevel spends a lot of his downtime away from tennis hanging out with teammates playing FIFA and NBA 2K.
“Thomas has become one of my closest friends since he joined the team because of our similar interests,” freshman Eric Biscoveanu said. “We spend a lot of time hanging out playing, and he always wins. He’s gotten really good.”
As for adjusting to American culture, Sevel was pleasantly surprised.
“I really feel the people are nicer here,” Sevel said. “When I first came here I was afraid of people judging my accent because it sounds funny, but then one of my first things I did when I got here was go to the bank and they were even more helpful when they realized I wasn’t American.”
“Of course, my family and friends back home are the biggest thing that I miss,” he added. “That and the bread in France.”
Dan Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dan_wilson4.