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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Sophomore tennis standout exemplifies sportsmanship characteristics

 
 

Sportsmanship, in its simplest form, stands as an applied definition of respect. The word embodies an unwritten code amongst the global athletic community and captures the essence of both competition and fair play.
For Jeremy Efferding, a sophomore in the Texas A&M men’s tennis program, sportsmanship runs deeper than athletics itself, personifying a way of life. The kinesiology major said statistics and rankings fade over time – strong character lasts forever.
“No matter what, win or lose, you have your reputation the rest of your life,” Efferding said. “Tennis comes and goes, but your reputation stays forever. My parents really stressed a lot [about] having a good attitude and respecting your opponent – giving an inch rather than taking an inch, which is not common as much in college tennis.”
Recruited out of Boca Raton, Fla., the blue chip five-star prospect quickly earned a reputation for his courteous approach on the court. Efferding proceeded to win multiple sportsmanship honors throughout his career, bringing home the prestigious Bill Talbert Sportsmanship Award in 2008, an accolade given annually by the U.S. Tennis Association to the Top Four junior players who exemplify the “finest qualities of sportsmanship.”
Efferding excelled on the court throughout high school. He dominated Florida courts, winning the state individual title three times, including the Florida Closed 18’s Championship in 2010, and earned the opportunity to participate in the USTA National Training Program. During his recruitment, Efferding found A&M emphasized an ideal he held in high regard – sportsmanship.
“Here with the Aggies, the coaches are such men of character and they really stress [good sportsmanship] upon us,” Efferding said. “They won’t deal with bad behavior or bad character, and that really rubs off on the whole team. It’s a number one priority and I try to emulate what they teach.”
When he arrived, the A&M coaching staff began tweaking Efferding’s game, which focused on defensive play. Assistant coach Bob McKinley said advancing Efferding’s offensive capabilities dramatically increased his threat to more experienced players.
“If somebody watched him last year, the way they would describe [Efferding] would be – in tennis terms – a grinder, meaning all he would do [was] play defense,” McKinley said. “Now, the reason he’s playing better is that he can still do that if he needs to, but he plays much more offense.”
By the end of Efferding’s first semester at A&M, he had boosted his national ranking to No. 73, advancing to the finals of the International Tennis Association College Station Regional and defeating four opponents in the ITA Men’s All-American Championship pre-qualifying round.
As his sophomore season rolled around, coaches focused more on Efferding’s offensive skills, hoping to use him as the Aggies’ leadoff competitor during team matches.
“The coaches have been working [with me] a lot on penetrating the court, getting to the ball earlier, taking time away from my opponent and working on my serve,” Efferding said. “I had a pretty good return, but holding serve has been key for me this season.”
The hard work paid off through the spring season, as Efferding defeated five ranked opponents including Virginia’s Alex Domijan, the nation’s top player and former U.S. No. 1 amongst collegiate players.
“I had the match of my life, basically,” Efferding said. “It was an awesome and thrilling experience to have. It’s one of my most memorable college experiences.”
Even with the success, Efferding has remained grounded and one of the strongest sportsmen in the country. Teammate and doubles partner Jordan Szabo said Efferding’s personality and competitive edge balance well on the court.
“He’s a great practice partner and a great teammate,” Szabo said. “He’s super fair. Even in the heat of the battle he’s fair and generous and nice to the opponent – almost too nice. He’s a competitor at the same time and he gets a good blend of both.”

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