By Laurean Love
Ranked as the No. 3 freshman nationally by ITA, Mate Zsiga had an impressive first season this fall.
Zsiga started out strong winning the singles championship at the HEB Invitational, the first tournament of the season, and then went on to win quarterfinal matches at the USTA/ITA Texas Regional.
Zsiga lost in the semifinal match to the number one seed. He was also one of two BU freshmen playing in the main draw of the Mansfield Future.
“I played nine matches in three days, so it was really hard conditions I think it was really good because I played pretty well and I am starting to play better and better,” Zsiga said. “I didn’t worry about anyone. I was just going to the court and it doesn’t matter who is before me. I was just playing and giving it my best.”
Zsiga was listed as the top player in the 16-and-under division by the European Tennis Association in 2008 and was ranked as high as the No. 7 junior player in the world by the ITF in April 2010.
“Enthusiasm is very high. Everybody wants to perform really good and everyone wants to give his best, so I think this team has really high potential,” Zsiga said.
The men’s tennis team has a young team this year with half of the team composed of freshmen. They will be joined by another freshman Diego Galleano and senior Julian Bley will return in the spring.
“We are working hard and doing all the right things. We feel like we underachieved in the fall, but maybe that is good for us. I think that will motivate us to pick it up,” head coach Matt Knoll said, “This last few days of practice I have seen that the guys have come out and raised their energy level and raised their focus and practiced better.”
Zsiga was matched up against teammate Roberto Maytin at the HEB Invitational and Maytin and Zsiga played together in doubles at the USTA/ITA Texas Regional.
“It was really hard at the beginning because it was the first time we played together, but he is a really good player and I am a really good player so we are going to get used to one another and we just need to practice more together,” Maytin said.
“It’s a young team. We have four young players and we just try to help the guys,” Maytin said. “They do a really good job and fight really hard. We just need to keep it going and keep practicing to get ready for spring.”
Zsiga, who is a Szeged, Hungary native, said he has never been away from home for such a long time. Zsiga said that his dad said he was going to a better place with better conditions, facilities and coaching staff.
Zsiga said he was very impressed with head coach Matt Knoll’s personality. He said his dad, who coaches him at home, has the same personality type as Knoll and is a reason he chose Baylor.
“My goal is to turn pro after college. The opportunities are not as good at home,” Zsiga said, “Previous players like Benedikt Dorsch and Benjamin Becker are examples of how I can really improve myself here.”
“We haven’t had the results that we had sort of hoped to have, but I think the fall is always like that. When you go out and play individual tournaments you don’t really have the cohesion that you do at a team event,” Knoll said. “Generally speaking, unless you have a very established team of guys that are really solid you are spread out a bit. Mate [Zsiga] certainly had a good fall, my team had a good fall.”
Baylor’s spring season will start in January at the Sherwood Cup in Los Angeles, Calif.