German import driving Gophers in ‘11

By age eight, Tobias Wernet was playing in the ITF against kids three years his senior; now a senior in college, he leads Minnesota with 13 wins.

Samuel Gordon

Senior Tobias Wernet values team goals more than individual ones.

How about killing two birds with one stone?

Minnesota is No. 20 in the nation with a 14-3 overall and 5-1 conference record, and Wernet leads the team with 13 victories.

After a disappointing tournament season in the fall, the Germany native returned home to work on his game with an emphasis on conditioning and serving.

âÄúComing back into January I tried to stay on the court as much as possible, even after practice,âÄù Wernet said. âÄúI knew that I had to work on my serves âÄî and also school hadnâÄôt started âÄî so I used that time to stay out extra and work on things.âÄù

The hard work paid off as Wernet is on pace to have a career season. However, his journey to success began long before he ever stepped foot on the University of Minnesota campus.

Inspired by his older brother, Wernet first started playing tennis at the age of four. By eight, he was already a standout, and was recruited to play in the International Tennis Federation. He matched up with players two or three years older and dove headlong into a rigorous tournament schedule.

At the age of 16, Wernet decided to enroll in a boarding school, feeling that heâÄôd have better chances to develop his game.

âÄúI had way better practice opportunities,âÄù he said. âÄúThe practice facility was right next to my high school so it just allowed me to practice even more intense and live for the sport.âÄù

Wernet was recruited by five schools coming out of high school âÄî UCLA, Southern Florida, Baylor, Pepperdine and Minnesota âÄî but ultimately chose Minnesota, citing head coach Geoff YoungâÄôs ability as a recruiter as well as the chance to study at the Carlson School of Management.

âÄúHaving a good business school and having a very good tennis program, that combination made me decide to come here,âÄù he said.

Wernet was a standout on the court from day one, compiling a 17-9 record as a freshman while playing mainly No. 2 singles. He earned All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore with a 25-9 record and tied for the team lead with 20 wins as a junior.

Wernet has also made sure to handle business in the classroom. During his sophomore year he was also named to the All-Big Ten academic team and heâÄôs currently part of the Carlson Ventures Enterprise, a consulting team with mostly MBA students. He will intern at U.S. Bank this summer.

As a career, Wernet intends to work in either consulting or finance, but he still hopes to play tennis in summer leagues in Europe. As far as this season is concerned, Wernet feels that he and the team have some unfinished business left on the court.

âÄúWeâÄôve reached the second round of the NCAAâÄôs the past two years, so we want to jump over that hurdle and maybe reach the Sweet 16,âÄù Wernet said. âÄúThat would be a gift for the team and a gift for me as a senior.âÄù