EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State men’s tennis team has lost two if its top players to injury this season. But that hasn’t dampened their spirits so far.
Just ask Mac Roy.
The junior from Austin, Texas has stepped up into the No. 1 singles and doubles positions for MSU. It’s a tough spot, matching Roy against the toughest competitors on a weekly basis. Roy said he’s embracing the spotlight and the challenge.
“I don’t feel the pressure because I know once you’re in that spot, there’s not much higher you can go and you’re playing the best of the best,” said Roy. “One thing I do feel is the eyes on me from my teammates. I feel the pressure of being a leader more than playing my actual position.”
Roy said being a leader and playing in the top spot is something he’s wanted since stepping onto campus as a freshman. He does admit that there has been a transition to negotiate..
Prior to this season, Roy had experience playing at No. 3 singles during his sophomore year. He has seen his role quickly grow because of injuries to teammates Brett Forman and John Patrick Mullane.
Coach Gene Orlando assessed Roy’s position at No. 1 singles and doubles as more of a reflection on his game, than the circumstances surrounding the team.
“It really came down to his performance last year and during fall competition,” said Orlando. “On paper, results-wise, he’s our top player and we base our lineup on results against other competition, not so much within our own team.”
The results have been a mixed bag for Roy throughout the early stages of the spring season in 2016. Since January, he has compiled a 7-5 singles record through Feb. 27. Dating back to the fall, he is at 9-9.
With a record hovering around the .500 mark, it’s not a total surprise that Roy thinks that another aspect of tennis suits his game more appropriately.
“I prefer doubles because I love serve and volleying and doubles is where you can do that with only having to cover half the court, so it’s naturally easier for me,” said Roy.
His enjoyment of doubles has led to more successful on-court performances this year. Alongside partner Michael Dube, the pair has compiled an 8-5 record this season.
Bringing a focused, intense attitude to the court, Roy’s strengths include his big serve and aggressive baseline play. Add that to his serve-and-volley prowess and it can be seen why his game is formidable.
It’s those skills that first garnered the attention of Orlando at the USTA Boys’ Junior National Tennis Tournament in Kalamazoo, Mich. American greats such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and John McEnroe have all gone through the Boys’ Nationals on their road to being professionals.
The Kalamazoo tournament is a representation of the skills and ability that Roy possessed as a teenager.
“He really caught my attention because he was a very talented player,” said Orlando. “It really came down to his great serve and big forehand. I thought he had some skills with the volleys and that’s really developed well since he got here.”
Looking to the future, Roy said he hopes to continue his tennis career beyond his time at Michigan State.
“I was planning on going on the tour for a year or two, tops, just to see how things are,” said Roy. “I would never want to live with that regret of saying ‘what if’, and if that doesn’t work out then that’s why I’m here, to get my education.”
If tennis doesn’t work out, Roy said, ideally, that he’d like to own his own gym.