Sunday, October 30, 2005

Senior Walk-on

Thomas Runge '06 just wanted to play college tennis. In a school where nearly a quarter of the student population plays a varsity sport, Runge has found an opportunity at Davidson to live out his dreams. However, he only gets one year. Runge is a senior walk-on on the Men's Tennis team in a place where that rarely happens. "A lot of people might not have tried out if they only had a year left," Runge says. "But I want to see how good I can get."
Runge says that he didn't start to play tennis seriously until much later than most people who play Varsity tennis, who often start playing youth tournaments at a very young age. As a result, he was not highly recruited coming out of high school and decided to try to walk on at Davidson. However, as a freshman, Runge did not make the team. "I did try out my freshman year, but I didn't really have that clear of a purpose," Runge says. When he didn't make the team, Runge tried to stay sharp by practicing with the girls team during his freshman year. However, faced with the large prospect of getting back on to the team, Runge moved onto different things the next two years and decided not to concentrate on tennis. But there was something urgently pulling him back to the game that he poured so many hours into. "I just couldn't stand watching the team from the sidelines," Runge attests. "After all that time, you miss playing a sport competitively and I felt that I had to prove it to myself that I could put forth the effort and compete in a collegiate match."
Runge worked all summer and earned himself a spot on a squad that is always impacted by his sense of urgency. "He plays like a guy with his back against the wall," says teammate Philip Compeau '08. "But, for him there really is no tomorrow." Runge's first opportunity on the court came several weeks ago when the tennis team hosted several Southern Conference opponents during their mock fall schedule. Although he dropped his two matches in third-set tiebreakers, Runge knows that the match experience will continue to give him confidence in preparation for the spring. As both a senior and rookie at the same time, Runge has the unique experience of learning from the veterans while being a leader through his sense of urgency and drive to excel in his brief opportunity to play a collegiate sport. "I definitely feel like I am working against a deadline, but as everyone at Davidson can attest, that comes with its own special buzz."


Will said...

Is this a Davidsonian article?

wibryan said...

not yet...i wrote it a while ago, but it hasn't been published