Last month, Luke Trinka ’16 earned a trip to the International Tennis Association (ITA) Small College Championships in Fort Myers, Florida by winning the ITA Northeast Regional Championship as an unseeded player. This past weekend, Trinka finished sixth at nationals. We caught up with him to ask about his time in Florida.
Were you happy with how it went?
LT: I was happy with how it went. That’s not to say that I wasn’t a little bit disappointed, though. I had played so well at the ITA at Middlebury, and last weekend I kind of came down from that very high level of play. But overall I was very happy to be there, especially being the first player in the draw.
What was the level of competition like compared to that of the New England Regional?
It was a difficult draw. Instead of having to play the top players in the quarterfinals, semifinals or finals, you’re playing them in the first round. It’s very visceral. You need to raise your level of play right away or you might get caught up and not move through the draw as you would like to.
What was the atmosphere like at the tournament?
It was interesting, because there were three other draws: NAIA, DII and Junior College. A lot of different levels of play, different types of players. There are guys who are, like, 28 year-old foreigners (laughs). Obviously I’m not competing in the same bracket as them, but it makes for an interesting environment. It’s actually a pretty big tournament—men and women—so there’s over 160 participants. It was much bigger than I thought it would be.
Did you get a chance to interact with other players outside of matches?
Yeah. The first night there was a big banquet for all the players hosted at the tournament site, so we got to sit with a lot of different teams. We sat with the Wash. U team; they had a pair in the doubles draw. That was cool to see teams from all over the country, because the only collegiate tournaments I’ve played in have been more local or regional.
Has the experience of winning New England’s and going to a national tournament changed the way you think of yourself as a player?
Definitely. It’s been a huge confidence boost. Hopefully it will be a boost for me as a player as well as for the team. We’ve talked a lot about using those results as a way to push ourselves harder, because the level of play that I reached is very attainable for all of us. That, in and of itself, is pretty inspiring.
What are the goals come spring?
The team goal is a national championship. Everyone’s in it for that. That being said, you have to start small. Our first matches our in California, and those really set the tone for the season as far as our confidence and our level of play. I think we’ll be able to make our mark in California and then go from there.