Corwin shines early in singles

Freshman Felix Corwin has proven himself early on in his collegiate career.

Sam Kraemer

To end Tuesday’s men’s tennis practice, all team members participated in a rigorous relay race as part of an attempt to improve their conditioning heading into Big Ten play.

While the running itself appeared strenuous, one thing was apparent from the race: The Gophers are a very close-knit unit, as they motivated each other throughout the drill.

Perhaps that’s why Felix Corwin, a freshman on the team, has excelled this year.

“Even in losing matches, we’re in it together, and we have each other’s backs,” Corwin said. “We enjoy each other’s company and like spending time together.”

For a player who reached the singles final in Wisconsin for three consecutive years — winning it in 2013 and 2014 — Corwin’s transition to college hasn’t been too difficult.

He credits some of his early success to his teammates who welcomed him in at the beginning of the year, though he wasn’t too worried about playing collegiate tennis.

“Coming into it, I expected some arguments at least, but there really haven’t been any issues,” Corwin said. “We’re a family.”

Moving up to collegiate tennis has been exciting, he said, adding that he strongly prefers the NCAA atmosphere.

“On the court, it’s so much more intense during the matches. … During the junior tournaments, it’s just you and your mind,” Corwin said. “And here, it’s super loud all the time. All the guys are yelling at each other across the court. It’s much more fun.”

Prior to the season, Corwin said he knew he’d have a spot in the lineup, but he wasn’t certain where.

“I knew I’d be a key to the team and doing well. I didn’t know how exactly it’d go, but so far, it’s going great,” Corwin said.

The biggest transition for Corwin was probably being a part of a team, head coach Geoff Young said.

The head coach anticipated early success for Corwin despite his freshman status.

“I expected him to do well. He had a very successful junior career, came here and did really well in the fall after a really good summer,” Young said. “I expected him to play really good tennis and help us a lot, and he has been.”

Young said the five-star recruit had to adjust to playing with a team full of talented players.

Corwin reiterated that sentiment, acknowledging the talent he now practices with at Minnesota.

“The big difference for me is training with the guys,” Corwin said. “I’ve never got to practice with so many good players every day.”

Under Young’s tutelage, Corwin seems to be flourishing. He’s 13-2 in singles this season and gaining respect from his teammates, like senior Jack Hamburg.

“I think Felix’s emergence early in the season has really helped us out,” Hamburg said. “He was one of the top players in the country coming in, and he had a great fall.”

Corwin said his early success stems from his dedication to the game.

“I’ve just been focused. I’ve been training hard and doing what I want to do on the court by keeping a good mindset,” he said.

But Hamburg added Corwin contributes more than just a powerful serve and strong forehand.

“He’s a really good fit on our team. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and has the same values as us,” Hamburg said. “He’s [going to] be great for the program, as is [freshman] Matic [Spec].”