The bus that held Nicolas Paulus, along with the rest of the men’s tennis team, pulled into the parking lot by the Liacouras Center as another day of practice concluded.
The daily 12-minute commute from the Liacouras Center to Legacy Tennis Center has become routine for the team. But for several members of coach Steve Mauro’s squad, traveling through an American city is a relatively new experience. Of the nine players on the roster, eight are from outside the United States – including Paulus.
The sophomore was born and raised in Rheinau, Germany. He said when he came to Temple, he was expecting a change.
“I expected everything to be really big here,” Paulus said.
Paulus said the people he’s surrounded by aren’t much different in terms of personality, but the lifestyle was a bit of a change. On the tennis court, Paulus said he feels like he’s now respected more.
“Tennis-wise, there are a lot more people caring about you, with an academic adviser and a bunch of teammates,” Paulus said.
Paulus went 8-5 in the fall, competing in each of the team’s five tournaments. Last year, he led the team in singles wins with 15, and prior to joining the Owls, Paulus advanced to the semifinals of the Germany F5 Futures International Tennis Federation tournament.
Paulus is one of five sophomores on the team, a group that makes up more than half of the roster.
“I think we always had good chemistry between each other,” Paulus said.
Paulus’ favorite aspect about tennis in America is the surface, as he said he played on clay courts in Germany. The hard courts he plays on as an Owl are better suited for his game, he said.
Mauro said sometimes things come easier for Paulus while playing on hard court.
“He’s more suited for hard court because he strikes the ball so fast on hard court, he can hit winners more easily,” Mauro said.
“He’s a smart kid, a hard worker and I couldn’t ask for a nicer kid,” Mauro added.
Junior Hernan Vasconez played doubles with Paulus last season, which was Paulus’ first experience playing collegiate tennis.
“We used to motivate each other,” Vasconez said. “Whenever somebody had some problem, the other one was there to back him up. He’s good as an individual and as a team player.”
“I think he’s a really good player,” Vasconez added. “Most of the time he’s working hard, he’s encouraging his teammates, he’s fighting on the court until the last moment, and I think that’s important for everyone else. If you’re playing on another court and you see him fighting, it makes you give your best.”
Greg Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @g_frank6.