Fall Signing Week '13: Wahoos Welcome Wiersholm
by Colette Lewis
, 13 November 2013
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On his official visit to the University of Virginia last month, Henrik Wiersholm met not only the dean of the McIntire School of Commerce but head basketball coach Tony Bennett and star guard Joe Harris. That combination typifies what the 16-year-old from Kirkland, Wash. is looking for in the college experience, as he has committed to play for the Cavaliers while preparing for a professional tennis career.
"I was looking for the best of both worlds," says Wiersholm, a blue chip ranked sixth in the Class of 2014. "I wanted to go to a school with one of the top tennis programs in the nation, but I also wanted to go to a school where I could get the best education. Virginia has a massive amount of resources to help me become what I want to be, to pursue my goals. They have a great athletic program there, the coaches are great.
"I really enjoyed the team environment, and I felt all the guys there had a similar mindset - we're not just here to play college tennis," adds Wiersholm, who was hosted in Charlottesville by ITA All-American champion Mitchell Frank. "A lot of the guys do want to pursue a career afterwards, professionally."
With his Les Petits As title as a 13-year-old and his Kalamazoo 16s title as a 15-year-old - results he cites as two of his best junior tennis memories - Wiersholm had been on track for a professional tennis career from an early age. But accelerated class work since his elementary school days led him to be considered a high school junior by the NCAA at age 15, a position he feels gives him an advantage.
"I get to go to school earlier than my peers and have the opportunity to move on to the next step, not only in tennis, but in my life," says Wiersholm, who also took an official visit to Duke.
"I always had it in my head that I would go to college, that was the route that I was going to take. With my [junior] success, there was always the question, am I good enough, is it a better route to go professional? It just ended up, all things considered, that college was the better stepping stone for me toward becoming a professional. Maybe if I had another year, turning pro could have been an option, but because I'm going a year earlier, it played out that college was the best option."
Wiersholm, who now trains full-time at the USTA's National Center in Boca Raton, Fla., had no family connections to tennis when he began playing. His father Karl and mother Maybelle had joined a local tennis club, but raising a tennis prodigy was not their motive.
"My dad doesn't play, and my mom plays rarely," says Wiersholm, whose nine-year-old sister Katja is now following his lead. "They just wanted to use the nice fitness facility there, and meet people, having just moved from LA. When I was 5, my mom signed me up for a program and I really enjoyed that. I started playing tennis, not as much, but close to as much as I was playing soccer and baseball. When I was 9, I started working with Dan Willman, who is still my coach when I go back home, and he put together a program, with me, Spencer Furman, Jake DeVine, Toshiki Matsuya, and together we really started improving, creating an environment where we really enjoyed the competition."