Photo by Joi Williams / MTSU Sidelines
Story by Jonas Saich / Sports Reporter
When he first picked up a racket at the age of five, Middle Tennessee tennis player Jan Porteset realized he was onto something special.
He drew inspiration from those on the court, watching players like Stanislas “Stan” Wawrinka light up the stadiums with his impressive style of play. With his coaches supporting him throughout his beginning journey — one of whom was his dad — Porteset knew that tennis was the sport for him.
“(My dad) was always playing tennis and I was inspired by him,” Said Porteset, who began playing competitively at the age of ten.
When it was time to take his talents to the collegiate level, he made a verbal commitment to Armstrong Atlantic State University, a small Division II school in Georgia that had earned a multitude of achievements. They even won a national champioship in the 2011-12 season.
Even with the capability of AASU, he made an immediate impact bt going 9-7 in singles and 19-5 in doubles. He and his doubles partner were a very talented duo, even beating the fourth-ranked doubles team in the division. Porteset improved upon that mark the next year, receiving All-American honors in the doubles department and finishing as the tenth-ranked doubles team in the division.
“I practice both singles and doubles and had some good results,” Porteset said. “I love the teamwork in doubles and the style of play, as well as the competitiveness in singles.”
He continued his success all the way to his junior year, amassing a combined record of 51-17 in singles and 66-25 in doubles.
During his time at AASU, Porteset highlighted his dedication and competitive style by joining several International Tennis Federation tournaments. This earned him a third-place finish at his home country, Germany, and winning another tournament in Croatia.
What made those matches so memorable for Porteset was that they felt different in comparison with college matches.
“During those tournaments, you didn’t have a team with you,” Porteset said. “It was just you and your coach.”
Porteset was playing for himself and progressed a lot during the tournaments. He then made the leap from the junior levels to turn pro during his time at AASU, one of the most challenging times in his life.
“It was a difficult transition,” Porteset said. “There are a lot of changes to your body that need to be adjusted.”
Porteset also says that strength is the biggest step in having success at that level, mainly because of the improved competition.
“The power at the pros is a drastic difference than that of lower levels,” Porteset said. “I always make sure to improve technique and work on my overall core.”
At the end of his junior year, it was announced that Armstrong State and Georgia Southern University would be merging beginning in the fall of 2017. At that point, he was given a choice.
“I could stay and just be a student or transfer to a different school to play tennis my last year of college,” Porteset said.
He was fortunate to know that several of his best friends and mentors from tennis coached at Middle Tennessee State University, including tennis head coach Jimmy Borendame who Porteset worked with for years. He got in contact and gained admittance to MTSU for his senior year, where he says it was an easy decision.
Porteset has admired the campus as a whole since his decision, including the team he has and how professional the coaches and players are.
“It’s a bigger school to that of Armstrong State, which only had around 6,000 students,” said Jan. “You can tell that it’s a big family (here).”
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