TAMPA BAY, Fla. – For some people the sophomore slump is merely a myth, but for University of Pennsylvania men’s tennis player, Jason Magnes, it became a reality.
After having a tremendous freshman year, winning a team-high 26 singles matches, the Short Hills, N.J. native struggled mightily in his second year, finishing with a record of 8-9.
This has made the scrappy competitor work tirelessly to address his weaknesses and improve his play on the court.
“I’ve been working extensively on my serve with my coach,” says Magnes. “I’ve been putting in a lot of time and taking baskets to serve to work on it.”
One thing that the UPenn junior believes he’s finally conquered are his emotions on the court.
“I used to get very upset when I played and it really detracted,” he said, while playing a match at the University of South Florida in early March.
“I cared so much and I would try so hard but because I cared so much and I was a perfectionist I would get down on myself very easily. [But] I’ve really been able to find that balance between having the passion but not letting it boil over and become a negative thing.”
With his emotions in-check, the only weakness left to harness in his game is his serve. With mental toughness and pure determination, Magnes believes he more than makes up for the areas that he lacks.
“[My] serve is definitely a weakness and I don’t get as much pace on the ball as some other kids, but I think my scrappiness actually makes up for that.”
Magnes defines his scrappiness as mental toughness, having a never-say-die attitude and fighting for every point. “I take the approach that it’s not over until the last point is over and there’s always a chance.”
His strong backhand also compliments his strengths.
The power with his backhand comes from a strong left hand, for he holds his racket in his right hand but writes with his left, meaning that his dominant hand gets to power his backhand, making it more of a “lefty forehand.”
It’s these strengths that made Magnes an exceptional high school talent. He was a first-team all-state in 2006, a second-team all-state in 2009, and ranked as high as No. 5 in his section as a junior player.
Despite his success as a high school student in New Jersey, and his prominence on the court as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Magnes’ sophmore slump has crept into his junior year as he continues to struggle to find consistency on the court.
However with his senior year on the horizon, Magnes continues to work on his weaknesses in his tennis game in hopes of regaining the form and success he was previously accustomed to as a freshman, and forgetting the reality that became his sophomore slump.