Hubert Chodkiewicz: Game, set, med school
Juggling a heavy workload full of team practices, individual instruction and classes is nothing new to University of Texas senior Hubert Chodkiewicz (pronounced hod-KAY-vitch). The Corpus Christi native has effectively balanced his life as a NCAA student-athlete, posting high marks on the courts and in the classroom. But, during the 2006-07 season, Chodkiewicz will take a different approach to managing his schedule.
An aspiring physician, Chodkiewicz will take time away from the courts this season to prepare for life beyond the field of play. He will redshirt during the 2006-07 season to allow himself more time to prepare for medical school.
"I will begin some preparatory classes and take practices tests for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) on weekends," Chodkiewicz said. "One of my goals is to progress toward getting into medical school, and I have made it a priority to finish my pre-med work by the end of the school year."
Chodkiewicz comes from a family who knows the value of putting an extraordinary amount of time into academics. His parents, who emigrated from Poland to the United States in 1976, are engineers. Bogdan, Hubert's father, earned a doctorate degree in his native Poland before he and Hubert's mother, Elizabeth, arrived in Long Island, N.Y., 30 years ago.
"They came to the United States with two suitcases and were taken in by some friends of theirs," Chodkiewicz said. "They didn't know English, so my Dad got a job translating Russian."
Hubert's parents moved to Bay City, Texas, where Hubert was born in 1984, and the family moved to Corpus Christi five years later. Before Hubert's freshman year of high school, he was the afforded the opportunity to study in Poland, since his father's occupation required him to spend substantial time in his native country. However, Hubert passed on the opportunity in favor of staying closer to home.
"They gave me the choice of coming here to Austin to attend St. Stephen's Academy and play at a tennis academy or go to Warsaw, Poland and attend an American school," Chodkiewicz said.
Hubert's mother had plans to accompany her husband to Poland, and, naturally, she wanted her son to join them. But, the opportunity to stay in Texas was too good to pass up.
"My mom wanted me to go to Poland, but my Dad stressed that I had a great opportunity to get a good education and continue to work on my tennis," Chodkiewicz said. "I wanted to stay in the United States, so I decided to go to St. Stephen's."
Hubert's parents moved back to Corpus Christi in 2002, just in time to aide him with his selection of a college. His brother, Adam, had enrolled at Texas A&M while Hubert was in high school, but he was not influenced by his brother's selection. Recognized as the top junior tennis player in the state of Texas, he found little reason to leave Austin to further his education and play collegiate tennis.
"I liked Austin a lot after living here for four years, and I knew UT had a lot to offer," Chodkiewicz said. "I kept my options open and considered other schools, but in the end, Texas was the best choice."
Chodkiewicz spent his freshman season adapting to the college game with the help of the six seniors on the UT roster. He immediately developed the skills necessary to continue to succeed in academics and tennis.
"I was trying to get better everyday when I got here, and the work I put in my freshman year paid off," Chodkiewicz said. "I knew if I worked hard, listened to what the coaching staff was telling me and got in the weight room that I would have a lot of success. They told me to fight hard and compete, and that's what I've done."
Chodkiewicz has elevated his game without sacrificing his academics. He has compiled a 50-32 overall singles record and has proved to be quite an asset in doubles play, totaling a 69-24 record for the best doubles winning percentage on the team. His doubles victories with Roger Gubser, his former high school teammate at St. Stephen's, helped Texas reach the NCAA semifinals in 2006.
"Hubert is a guy who has developed with the program," said UT coach Michael Center. "He was a key player in our run to the Final Four. He did it all while sustaining 4.0 grade-point average, and that's a pretty remarkable feat. He works hard for everything he gets."
Chodkiewicz twice has been named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. Last season, UT Athletics selected Chodkiewicz as its Lan Hewlett Award winner, given to the men's tennis player with the highest grade-point average.
"I've been able to manage academics and athletics well, but it hasn't been easy," Chodkiewicz added. "We might be on the road at a tournament and have the chance to go see a movie or something, but I'll have a test coming up and will study instead."
Chodkiewicz is on track to earn his bachelor's degree in economics, with a track in pre-medicine, in May.
"The pre-med track requires 36 hours of credit between organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, genetics, physics, calculus and a writing component. I'll graduate and then get started on another undergraduate degree before my senior year of tennis."
A tennis match, an exam, and another season of college tennis -- all in a day's work for Hubert Chodkiewicz.