Senior tennis player Max Schmerin sat down and discussed tennis at Youngstown State University following one of his communication classes on Monday. Schmerin discussed what it’s like being the lone American player, how he became ambidextrous and how the men’s and women’s teams coexist with one another.
In his junior season, Schmerin finished with a 12-4 mark, including a 7-1 record in dual action and 4-0 in the Horizon League while earning his third letter. At Taylor Allerdice High School in Pittsburgh, Pa., he won four consecutive Pittsburgh City League titles and was the District 8 Champion.
Q) What’s it like being the only American-born player on the tennis team, both men and women? And how do you maybe adjust to that?
A) When I first came here, there was a senior who is an American. After that, I was the only one. It’s just rooming with people and living with people from around the world kind of puts everything into a different perspective. You kind of see other things from them as well. Plus, the communication part is difficult because when they come here, their English is usually pretty poor. Some of the guys are pretty good. After that, they kind of develop it in a semester and become acclimated to the American way.
Q) Did you have to help someone speak English or vice versa with them helping you to speak their language?
A) I wouldn’t say I helped them, but by them talking to me and me being the only American kind of helped them better their English. A lot of them had trouble listening to a teacher, so I would help them with some grammatical stuff, look at a paper or anything like that.
Q) You told me the other day that you’re left-handed with some stuff and right-handed with some stuff, or ambidextrous. What are some things you do left-handed and some right-handed? How did that come about?
A) Left-handed, I do my schoolwork, eat and play basketball. I was a pitcher growing up and pitched lefty. Mostly, the only things I do right-handed are tennis — I grew up playing hockey as well and golf. Mostly the stick sports are right-handed while left-handed is more for finesse.
I remember playing tennis when I was 11. I was just hitting around. I had two hands on both sides because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was playing baseball out there basically. My mom told me to take my left hand off, so I would take my left hand off and started playing with my right hand. After that, I started getting comfortable with it, started taking lessons and went with it.
Q) Was it all at 11 when you started falling in love with the game or anything like that? And why did you pick YSU?
A) I played since I was 11. When I was about 15 or 16, about my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I stopped. I was getting good, and I just didn’t like it anymore. Senior year, I moved down to Naples, Fla., to train for a scholarship. YSU was just a good fit. It’s close to home but not too close. I already knew two guys on the team.
Q) How often do the men’s and women’s teams coexist? How do you interact with the women’s team?
A) Sometimes, we have matches on the same day or the same place, so we’ll go and support them, and they’ll stay and support us. Usually we don’t practice together because we have the same coach. That way the coach can focus on one team at a time, but we’re still close. I mean we hang out in our off time — we go get food and celebrate things together. It’s kind of just a big circle.