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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

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

The Aussie way

 
 

The moment Jordan Szabo flashes his smile and settles into a conversation, the sophomore stands out from the rest of the Texas A&M mens tennis team his Australian accent says it all.
Recruited out of Melbourne, Australia, Szabo journeyed to the U.S. in January of 2011 to join the mens tennis program at A&M. Due to Australias strong history in doubles tennis, Szabo boasts an old-fashioned serve and volley style of play, a factor head coach Steve Denton said provides Szabo an edge against many American players.
With his unique style, he creates matchup problems for some of the guys in the back of the lineup, Denton said. There are certainly more of those style of players in Australia. Many of them serve and volley pretty well and he learned at a young age and it has evolved.
Szabo was one of the top amateur players in Australia, earning an International Tennis Federation ranking of No. 162, good for consideration as a Top 5 junior nationally.
Before making his way to College Station, Szabo won two rounds at the Junior Australian Open and reached the finals at the Auckland 18 & Under ITF summer championships.
For the general studies major, the transfer to the U.S. was at first challenging, but Szabo has since adapted to the change in culture.
[Playing in the U.S.] was a bit of an adjustment at first, but I really like it here, Szabo said. Im really comfortable with the guys here. Coach Denton played the same sort of [style] back in the day, so hes taught me a lot of tips.
After being redshirted his freshman season, Szabo has emerged as an integral part of A&Ms success this year, playing a key part in multiple doubles match wins as well as an increasing number of one-on-one matches, winning four of his past five with the lone loss coming against the No. 12 ranked player in the nation.
The aspects of Szabos singles game are rooted in his throwback style that emphasizes a strong serve with the ability to play close to the net. Despite recent advances in the racket and string technologies that have made other strategies more popular among the international tennis community, Szabo has maintained his unique style of play.
According to Denton, Szabo has improved his serve and with a strong performance in that area can dominate opponents.
If he serves well, then hes a tough out, Denton said In the matches that hes struggled in a bit, I felt like his serve was the part of the game that could have been the difference for him. When he does serve well, he puts a lot of pressure on his opponent.
Szabo said he eventually has plans to advance to the professional ranks and he is working to build his singles competency at A&M under the instruction of Denton.
I would like to play pro, but well see how it goes, Szabo said. We have a rich history of tennis players [in Australia]. We dont have as many players as here in America but the competition is still pretty high and weve got some good players in the pro ranks.
As for his professional aspirations, Szabo set his bar high when he noted Lleyton Hewitt as his all-time favorite player and tennis role model, saying the former World No. 1 was a fighter and a warrior. Hewitt, the youngest player to grace the top rank of the ITF, plays a different style than Szabo but the way he competes is a quality the sophomore seeks to emulate down the line in his career.
Despite his hard work and persistence to evolve his game, many teammates note that the native Australian embodies a different facet of his personality when he steps off the court.
Hes goofy, freshman Harrison Adams said. Off the court, hes a great guy, funny guy.
But once the rackets and tennis balls come out, Szabo shows a passion through his constant practice and dedication to the game.
[Szabo] is a great competitor, Adams said. Every time you step on the practice court with him, you have to raise your intensity to as high as possible because hes an extremely hard worker. He comes from a different environment and hes really just trained hard and pushed through it. He really brings the level of everyone else around him up.

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