By Adam Schabel
Tennis has been a part of Nico Mostardi’s life since the very beginning.
“My dad was previously a professional tennis player. He was top 300 in the world. It was mainly him who got me into it,” Mostardi said. “My dad was the major one. Since I was born, it was all about tennis.”
The sophomore psychology major’s dad played collegiately at the University of Akron. However, Mostardi chose to come to Cleveland State to play tennis for many reasons.
“Well, this facility is incredible,” Mostardi said. “Also, just the campus itself, it’s getting better and better, and I wanted to stay closer to home so my family could come watch whenever they want. The program is great. [Brian] Etzkin is a great coach to have.”
Mostardi came out of high school ranked No. 3 in his class in the state of Ohio. He expressed how it was a big change for him while making the jump from high school to college.
“My freshman year, I didn’t quite realize what I was getting into. As a senior in high school, you are the big dog, you are older than everybody, you are more mature than everybody, but once you get to college it’s a different story,” Mostardi said. “Everyone has a different mentality and a different fight in them. My freshman year was an incredible learning experience, and it’s a good thing I can pass it on to my teammates now and help out the new freshman.”
Mostardi believes that he has come a long way on the court since his freshman year, and he says he has put his early struggles behind him while playing collegiate tennis.
“It has been a huge change, actually. I always struggled mentally on court. I was immature as a freshman, and now after having that first year under my belt, the maturing process has advanced. Mentally, I can stay focused at all times and not let those little things get at me,” Mostardi said. “The teammates that I have now, from last year, have helped me get over all of that mental stuff and really push me to that next level.”
Mostardi has had an impressive season so far on the court. He has a 13-4 singles record, and his 13 wins leads the Horizon League.
“It’s all about the team. I just want to get those team wins on the board, and if that requires me taking a loss and the rest of the team wins, then I’m happy,” Mostardi said. “As long as the team is winning, that’s all that we care about. But a lot of those wins are attributed to the team pushing me to that next level and really helping me get better.”
After two tough losses to Notre Dame and No. 2 ranked Ohio State on Jan. 20 and 21, the team bounced back to defeat Duquesne, DePaul and Oberlin on Jan. 26 and 28.
Mostardi’s play led to him being named the Horizon League Singles Player of the Week for two consecutive weeks. He, along with his teammate Matthew Terry, was also named the Horizon League Doubles Team of the Week.
Mostardi believes he couldn’t have been awarded the honors without the help of his teammates.
“I can’t do it without any of my teammates, they are all giving me the ability to play this well,” Mostardi said. “On court, the energy they bring and the motivation they give me to play better is outstanding. I have to give it all to the team.”
Mostardi and the team are working hard to reach their goal of winning the conference tournament.
“I haven’t experienced it yet, but from the seniors in the past years and from coach, they say there is nothing better than winning a championship. So that’s what our main goal is, to get that championship,” Mostardi said. “Obviously, all the wins along the way are going to be great, but that main focus is treating every match like it’s the conference finals so we’re ready.”