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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The rise of Herman Hoeyeraal

Nathanial Stenchever

Herman Hoeyeraal, a player on the Arizona men’s tennis team, starts his serve in a match against the University of San Diego on Feb. 4, at the Robson Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona. Herman snuck a win out of his first match and got ready for singles play.

Getting injured was not the start Herman Hoeyeraal envisioned to begin his collegiate tennis career as a freshman at the University of Arizona.

“I got two stress fractures,” Hoeyeraal said. “One in my left foot and one in my right foot, so I was in two different boots for four months, and then I started playing again in April.”

After a long wait, the No. 1 prospect out of Norway was finally able to rejoin the Arizona men’s tennis team on the court for the second to last match of the regular season against the University of Utah, where he defeated his opponent in three sets. 

Hoeyeraal closed the season 5-1 with a ranked win as part of the Wildcats’ historic run to the third round of the 2021 men’s tennis tournament. 

“It was very fun,” Hoeyeraal said. “To finally be playing again with the team and also reach that goal to make it to the Sweet 16 was very fun.” 

The expectations were high for Hoeyeraal entering this year as he opened the season ranked No. 53 in singles. As part of the Wildcats 8-2 record as a team so far this season, he is 5-2 in singles play with another ranked victory. With expectations being so high for the Wildcats this year, Hoeyeraal explained how he likes that pressure and how he feels it can even help his game to an extent.

“I really drive from a big crowd, and when they root for me as well, it is really fun,” Hoeyeraal said. 

Arizona head coach Clancy Shields doubled down on that statement, talking about his match against the University of Texas, where he was playing on court one. Hoeyeraal lost in three sets, but the fight was certainly there and the support the crowd showed at times helped him play better. 

“[Hoeyeraal] really thrives off the energy of a big crowd and a big moment,” Shields said. “That is what I love about him. He is such a big-time player.”

RELATED: The Daily Wildcat’s team and athlete of the week (1/31/22)

As Hoeyeraal continues to mature in his game, the confidence Shields and the entire team have in him is the first step to him becoming a better player for the Wildcats. 

“He can beat anybody in the country,” Shields said. “He is an absolutely deadly player to face when you are in a big-time pressure moment because he is going to go for it and that is what you love about a kid. In the pressure moment, he is not going to choke. He is going to go for it, swing out and most of the time they are going to go in.”

Arizona sophomore Gustaf Strom said he believes Hoeyeraal has the potential to go far with this game. 

“He has the potential to become really good,” Strom said. “As he has shown, he has a huge forehand and that is a huge part of what you need on the ATP Tour right now. I think he can make it very far if he is focused and has that as a goal.”

As the regular season continues to progress and Hoeyeraal continues to show out in his first full season with the team, the Wildcats said they still fully believe in themselves just as much as last year despite losing a big piece of that team.

“I believe we can go all the way this year,” Hoeyeraal said. “I mean, we lost Alejandro [Reguant] who was a big piece of the puzzle, but we also got Colton [Smith] who is a very good player and he is becoming a part of the family right now so it is very cool to see.” 

Hoeyeraal and the Wildcats take the court next in a doubleheader against NAU in the Lanelle Robson Tennis Center on Saturday, Feb. 12, with the first match starting at 10 a.m. MST and the second match scheduled for 2 p.m. MST. 

Follow Ari Koslow on Twitter 

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