By Temarrio Thomas
Sam Slade, a rising star on GPC’s Men Tennis team, shared his goals for his remaining tenure a GPC and beyond.
The C: Last year, when you and Celestian Nkoueleue won the USTA/ITA Junior College National Championship for doubles in S.C., you also played in the “Super Bowl” for the overall small college national title. What was your favorite part of the tournament?
S.S: “I would say that my favorite part of playing in the tournament was really just playing all of the different players from NCAA Division II, Division III, and NAIA and really learning about the other types of competition in the different divisions.
Really getting to know my partner better, but I would say that the amount of competition was definitely my favorite part.”
The C: What was your game plan before the tournament?
S.S: “Celestian and I have partnered together prior to this tournament, so we knew each other’s game.
Our game plan was to capitalize on our strengths and make our opponents play our game, and I think we did that really well.”
The C: When you played in the national championship in October, did your game plan change for the national level of competition versus the regional level?
S.S: “No, our game plan did not change from one level to the next.
We felt that the way we played in the regional tournament was pretty good so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
The C: What inspired you to play tennis and pursue it as a career on the collegiate level?”
S.S: “I’ve always been into tennis. My sisters also play tennis. One of my sisters played tennis for Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. and the other played for Auburn University.
It’s really a family sport that I was raised around.”
The C: What is your favorite food?
S.S: “Let’s see, I’ll have to brainstorm about that. I know it’s cliché but I’m going with spaghetti!”
The C: Are there any rituals or pre-game rituals you perform before a match?
S.S: “Not really. I try to research my opponent and gather as much information on them as possible. Well, I do sort of have one.
For instance, if I eat at Chick-Fil-A the night before I won a match, then I have to eat there again before my next match, so I’m kind of superstitious in that sense.
If it worked for me one night, then I have to do it every time during that tournament.”
The C: What do you like to do in your down time?
S.S: “I love playing Xbox, watching Netflix and disc golf; that’s my day really.
I love going on hikes, swimming and a lot of outdoor events. I’d definitely say that Xbox is my favorite thing to do though.”
The C: Do you drink Gatorade, Powerade or any sports drinks?
S.S: “Yes, I do drink Gatorade and Powerade. For me it’s more of a ritualistic thing.
During changeovers I’ll drink a sip of Gatorade and then a sip of water in that exact order, and do the same thing during the next break.”
The C: As you know, this is the last semester for GPC sports. Do you have any goals that you would like to achieve before GPC closes its doors for good?
S.S: “As far as the tennis team goes, we really want to make it to nationals and represent GPC the best way that we can and end on a really great note.”
The C: So what are your plans for life after GPC?
S.S: “I’m actually pursuing a tennis career at Kennesaw State University. I’ll be there in the fall, and hopefully I will continue my championship ways there also.”
The C: Do you have any tennis or life goals after you’re done at Kennesaw State?
S.S: “If my tennis game were up to par, I would love to pursue a professional tennis career after college. Nothing is set in stone so I’m just taking things one day at a time.”
The C: Since you came from a tennis background, what lessons have you learned from the sport?
S.S: “It teaches you that failing and not succeeding right away is not necessarily a bad thing. You can learn from your mistakes and get better as a player and as a person. Pick yourself up and try again. I would more so apply that to all sports.”