The student newspaper of Nicholls State University

Athlete Close-up: Senior tennis player Sam Meessen

January 26, 2017

As he enters his last season on the tennis court as a Colonel, senior Sam Meessen admits that the sacrifices and demands of the sport over the years have been well worth it.

A Native of Voerendaal, Netherlands, Meessen is one of four seniors who have been together through their collegiate tennis careers since their freshmen year. While seniors Kieran Cronin, Max Sinn, and Bernard Wezemen have each spent time off due to injury, Meessen has managed to remain healthy and has established himself as an integral part of the men’s tennis program at Nicholls.

“What I’ve noticed and picked up about Sam is that he’s an extremely hard worker and that he does very well academically,” Assistant Coach Eric Sturgis said. “He’s a good leader. When we’re out doing the conditioning, he’s finishing first and working hard, being the example that you want for the rest of the team.”

Meessen has earned a spot on the Honors List, Dean’s List or President’s List every semester so far while at Nicholls. Last fall, he received the Colonel Leaders and Scholars Award, which honor the university’s highest achievers in extracurricular activities and academics. 

Sturgis said the seniors have completely bought into Head Coach Greg Harkins’s training system, which has helped the rest of the team follow suit. Despite each having their own unique styles, Sturgis said they have always been able to play off each other and that they have created a “mini family.”

The family atmosphere within the tennis team has shaped Meessen’s experience as an athlete at Nicholls and is manifested in his favorite memory with the team. Meessen clinched an individual win against number one ranked Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the conference tournament as a sophomore, but he felt the moment belonged to the entire team.

“As a tennis player, you always feel like it’s individual, but the way we competed against them that day made us feel like one team and we were all together,” Meessen said. “That was a really cool experience and that day really felt like a high.”

Meessen admits that with the highs also come low moments. His freshman year, the team headed into the conference tournament with regular season victories over Lamar University and the University of New Orleans, and Meessen individually went 9-10 in singles and 3-2 in Southland play. With high expectations for the Southland Conference Tournament, they took heavy losses. Meessen said it was a learning experience that he will never forget.

“You’re not always going to play your best, but you always have to find a way; even on your worst days,” Meessen said. “You can’t expect to go out there and have a perfect season, because it’s more about adapting to the situation.”

With almost five thousand miles separating Meessen from his parents and eight siblings, he said only getting to see them over the summer and winter holidays is a sacrifice worth making.

“If I didn’t feel so close to the team then it would be hard, but they’re kind of like a second family,” Meessen said. “Most of us are international students so it doesn’t really matter how far away home is.”

As his collegiate tennis career approaches an end, Meessen said he will pursue a master’s degree after finishing his studies in health sciences at Nicholls.

“I would like him to get into the grad school he wants and to be successful,” Sturgis said. “I think he will use the experience he’s had at Nicholls to better himself.”

Due to the monetary expense of traveling the world to continue competing in tennis tournaments, Meessen said he will probably not pursue the sport after graduation. He is considering staying in the United States to earn a master’s degree and is excited for what the future holds.

“So far, it’s all been worth it. Hopefully I still have another chapter to make,”Meessen said.

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