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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Player able 'to turn it on and off like a switch'

Like a brightly colored flower budding in the spring, 19-year-old freshman Tom Bagnato is blossoming and fitting into the IU men's tennis team (6-6, 0-1 Big Ten). His last victory was a comeback win against Northwestern junior Jackie Jenkins after dropping the first set at the No. 4 position.\n"The Northwestern match was his best by far," coach Ken Hydinger said. "He hasn't gotten rattled on the court and he has been steady. He rose to the occasion against Jenkins."\nJunior Zach Held said Jenkins was ranked No. 1 in the country at age 12. \n"He is one of the best No. 4 players in the country and Tommy now knows he can beat him," Held said. "It has to be a huge confidence boost." \nBagnato seized his opportunity when several Hoosiers suffered injuries. Senior Rahman Smiley went down with a chronic back injury, freshman Ryan Recht injured his groin and Held was hobbled by a calf injury. Those injuries opened the door for Bagnato and he responded. Prior to spring break, he won his last four matches beginning with Feb. 2 against Southwest Missouri State, although he didn't play in home contests against Vanderbilt and Evansville. He was victorious 6-2, 6-1 against the Bears' Rishi Garbharran. Later that day, he cruised 6-0, 6-2 against Murray State's Mike Schmidbauer, which began his winning streak.\nBagnato, a finance major, is 12-8 for the year and 6-1 in the spring. While Hydinger said he is enjoying Bagnato's progress this season, he mentioned one drawback. \n"He needs to practice everyday like he's playing a match," Hydinger said. "He has the ability to turn it on and off like a switch. He needs to practice with the switch on all the time."\nBagnato, who hails from New York, has been happy with his inaugural season at IU. He said at first it was a little difficult getting used to managing classes, studying, time and practice. But he said the advisors have been very helpful to him, telling him exactly what classes to take and when to take them. \nBagnato had a successful tennis career prior to coming to Bloomington. He participated in the Boys 18 Super National's Hard Court Championships. The champion of the Hard Court Championships receives an automatic invitation to the U.S. Open, one of the premiere professional tennis tournaments. Hydinger said it was a step in his development and maturity, because there were some very good players there, though it wasn't critical to his current success.\nBagnato said he thought the experience was more important than Hydinger did. \n"It was a tremendous opportunity and has really prepared me for college tennis," Bagnato said. "The players there were amazing."\nBesides that accomplishment, he boasts the title of two-time runner up in New York doubles state finals in 1999 and 2000. \nTwo teammates of Bagnato, freshmen brothers Efriam and Michael Kandinov, are natives of New York as well, and they influenced Bagnato to attend IU and play tennis for the Hoosiers. They both were accepted before Bagnato and decided to attend IU. They were friends, and they had played against each other several times. \nIn contrast to his demeanor on the court, Bagnato is laid back off the court.\nHe accomplishes his job in a quiet manner, helping a relatively young team, one with eight freshmen, to win six out of its first 12 matches. \n"Tommy is naturally confident and he is an unorthodox player. He really frustrates guys," Held said. "Next year the underclassmen aren't going to have time to be underclassmen. The young guys will need to grow up really fast"

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