Sophomore Hubert Chodkiewicz is one of six talented underclassmen who are the future of Texas men's tennis. He may only be in his second year as a member of the Longhorns squad, but he already demonstrates the work ethic and competitive spirit of a veteran. Chodkiewicz currently boasts a 17-12 overall record in singles and has teamed with junior Roger Gubser for a 17-7 record in doubles.
The native of Corpus Christi, Texas, took time to talk about tennis as a team sport, flying high-fives and the pronunciation of his last name.
When did you start playing tennis?
Hubert Chodkiewicz: I started playing tennis when I was seven. My dad played a lot of tennis so I would just play with him. I was into a lot of other sports when I was younger - basketball, baseball, swimming - but ended up sticking with tennis. I played my first tournament when I was 12, but didn't take it seriously. It wasn't until I was 14 when I started playing in national events.
HC: It's an individual sport and I like that aspect of it. I like knowing that I am in control the whole time. And, my dad told me I wasn't tall enough for basketball.
Tennis at the collegiate level is more of a team sport. When was your first introduction to tennis in a team atmosphere?
HC: I had a little introduction to the team atmosphere when I was at St. Stephen's. We would cheer for each other, but we didn't play for each other. You played for yourself. I also played in a couple of junior tournaments where it was Team Texas versus teams from other regions, so that was probably my first introduction to team tennis. However, I wasn't truly introduced to the team aspect until I arrived at Texas. I realized that there is a little more pressure when playing on a college team because not only are you playing for your teammates but you're playing for the school, too. Everyone has to be a unit. I think it's more rewarding to be part of a team because you're able to share your experiences with other people. Besides, it makes road trips more fun!
How would you describe your style of play?
HC: I would say that I am an aggressive baseliner with net tendencies. I try to use my serve and forehand to win points and I also like to finish points at the net.
What aspect of your game would you like to improve?
HC: My transition game - getting into the net and finishing more points at the net than I do now. I also want to improve my return, specifically my backhand. I'm always working on something.
Not only do you play singles, but you play No. 2 doubles with junior Roger Gubser. Talk a little about teaming with Roger?
HC: Roger and I both went to the same high school (St. Stephen's) for two years and then were reunited at UT which was pretty cool. We played a lot of doubles in the fall and did well at tournaments like at the ITA All-American (where the duo advanced to the doubles qualifying round of 16). I think we're a good pair because we have a lot of energy and a lot of fun.
Something that you and Roger have been known to do when you are playing well is the "chest bump." Why this form of celebration?
HC: We're just trying to add a little more excitement. We also do the "flying high-five" like what they do in football. I actually have a good story about that. At the beginning of the year, Garrett (Snyder) and I tried it. He said, "After this point we win, we're gonna go up," so we did and he missed. He hit me with his elbow and cut my eye open. I had to get butterfly stitches and had a black eye for a week. So, I don't do that with Garrett anymore. Roger and I have it down.
Switching from athletics to academics, what are you majoring in?
HC: Economics and pre-med. It's kind of a weird combination. I was always thinking pre-med but I didn't know what to pair it with. My advisor suggested I pick a liberal art, so I chose economics. I want to be a doctor, but if not, economics gives me something to fall back on.
With studying to get into medical school and tennis, do you ever have any down-time?
HC: A little. When I do have time off, I try to relax and just hang with friends. I enjoy being outdoors so my friends and I play beach volleyball at Zilker Park or go to the lake. But, during the season I'm always tired, so then I just stay at home and watch movies.
What are some of your favorite movies?
HC: I like comedies like Old School and Happy Gilmore. One of my favorites, though, is Good Will Hunting.
Do you have a favorite movie line that you like to quote?
HC: No, I'm not really a quoter.
How has your time at Texas been so far?
HC: It has been everything I expected and more. I am having a lot of fun playing for UT and being a part of the athletic community. I'm also getting a great education. Austin is an unbelievable place; the weather's great and there's a lot to do.
Final question ... how do you pronounce your last name?