By Ryan Hannegan
The Baylor men’s tennis team includes 11 talented tennis players who have collectively started off the season 4-0 to earn a No. 6 ranking. Among these players is sophomore Julian Lenz. Julian has represented Baylor both on and off the tennis court as a student-athlete who does what it takes to succeed.
Born in Giessen, Germany, on Feb. 17, 1993, Lenz learned tennis from a young age. His older brother played tennis, and Lenz would regularly attend his brother’s practices because he was too young to be left at home alone.
“I think I was 2 or 3 when I just started picking up a tennis racket,” Lenz said. “My brother had a really nice coach back then and a couple of minutes after practice he would just feed me balls and I played a little bit.”
He was about 5 or 6 years old when he began to play competitively. Lenz came from a family of sports enthusiasts, and sports were just something they did growing up.
“We, in general, are a pretty sports-oriented family,” Lenz said. “We would just play for fun.”
As he got older, Julian was a two-sport star, but was eventually forced to pick between the two sports.
“I actually played soccer too,” Lenz said. “I was never playing with my age. I was always playing at higher levels and with kids that were older than me. Ultimately, it came to a point where I had to quit one or the other and I chose tennis. It was just more fun.”
Lenz said he loves the pressure-packed points a match provides. Moments like these motivate Lenz to get better each and every day, even when things get difficult.
“Well, of course I like the big moments,” Lenz said. “When you play big matches. Right now in college, it’s also, of course, playing for the team. Sometimes you question yourself when you’re doing conditioning stuff asking yourself, ‘Why am I doing all of this?’ I just think of those big moments I have had and it helps me to keep going.”
Coming out of high school, there was little doubt for Lenz as to where he would be playing collegiately.
Lenz noted the reputation of Baylor tennis, as well as living close to a former Baylor tennis star in his hometown in Germany, were key factors in his decision to come to Baylor.
“I came, of course, because the history of Baylor,” Lenz said. “We played in 2004 with three or four Germans on the team. I heard a lot of good things from them. Especially from Lars Poerschke, who lived like 15 minutes away from me. I remember always practicing with him before I came to college. He was always pushing me to go to Baylor. I really didn’t have a choice; I really didn’t make a choice. Once I was looking at colleges, it was really just Baylor.”
As a freshman, Lenz advanced to the round of 16 at the USTA-ITA National Indoor Championships in singles, posting an 11-4 record. He also won the distinction of German Junior Champion in 2012 and played in all four junior grand slams in 2011, advancing to the Round of 32 at both the US and Australian Opens. He is currently ranked as the No. 2 college player in the nation.
Lenz is exceptional in the classroom as well. Lenz made the fall Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the Baylor Dean’s List.
Many on the team realize how talented Lenz is and his great potential.
Fellow teammate junior Mate Zsiga gave Lenz high praise.
“He’s really talented,” Zsiga said. “He’s got a great serve, huge forehand, and he just helps the team in a lot of ways. He’s a fighter; he plays hard every single match. He’s obviously a huge part of our team and helps a ton.”
Head coach Matt Knoll also had a lot of great things to say about his player, noting how bright his future is for Lenz.
“I think the thing that stands out about Julian is his work ethic,” Knoll said, “and his professionalism as it pertains to tennis. His development has been nice and steady. You know, he’s worked hard and has continued to get better. That’s the way he has contributed to his team the best. He’s made a real commitment to his own improvement and it pushes everyone else to do the same.”
“I believe the sky is the limit for Julian,” Knoll said. “I think if he continues to stay focused on the present, he’s got a great skill set to play tennis at a high level. I think he will jump out of bed when he’s 28 or 29 and be pretty good.”