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Baptiste Anselmo, an 18-year-old freshman tennis player from France, poses for a portrait at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. The men’s tennis team has four freshmen additions to the team. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

The Red & Black will preview the upcoming men's tennis spring season with stories on each of the four freshmen, three of whom are from other countries.  

Part one focuses on Baptiste Anselmo, a native of Aix-en-Provence, France. Having made his debut at the Battle of the Bay tournament in September, Anselmo will look to improve on his first-round outage performance in the upcoming Miami Invitational in January.

Rising through the ranks

Growing up in France, Anselmo played on the U16 national team and helped lead it to a second-place finish in the European Winter Championship Cup. Before that, he was a U14 French champion in doubles, as well as a runner-up in singles.

Anselmo was a semifinalist in the U18 Roland Garros French Championship, as well as a finalist in the ITF Junior Saint Cyprien Championships in 2018. He rounded out his junior career with two doubles titles in Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Having participated in many of these competitions through the International Tennis Federation (ITF), he finished his career in the juniors with an ITF ranking of No. 83.

Heading into his final year of high school, Anselmo was unsure about his future in tennis. Before his senior year had even started, he hardly thought he would be looking into playing collegiate tennis.

“I chose to play college [tennis] around October last year. I had an agent, and he talked to Jamie [Hunt],” Anselmo said.

Anselmo’s agent was then able to get into contact with Georgia assistant head coach Jamie Hunt, who flew to France to meet the young French star. As soon as he was offered a spot by Hunt and head coach Manuel Diaz, Anselmo knew it was the place he wanted to be.

“I talked to Jamie and I talked to Manny and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to come to UGA…’ I didn’t even visit other schools or anything, it was my first choice,” Anselmo said.

Thoughts on the university

Although the United States and Athens are a big change from Aix-en-Provence, Anselmo said he has enjoyed his time at Georgia. From the tennis courts and athletic facilities, to the campus itself, his experience so far has been a positive one.

“It’s great, the facilities are great, everything is set for you to have good conditions to practice and to improve,” Anselmo said.

One thing that stood out to Anselmo about Georgia was the size of Sanford Stadium.

“The campus is really beautiful,” Anselmo said. “The football stadium is huge, bigger than the soccer stadiums in France.”

Playing with the Bulldogs

One thing the men’s tennis team prides itself on is the close bonds between the players, Anselmo said.

“I think there’s a great atmosphere, everyone is close to each other,” Anselmo said. “We have a good team, and everyone is pushing each other to get to the top.”

The appreciation Anselmo shows for his team is a feeling shared mutually by his fellow freshman.

“He is the nicest guy in the world,” said Tyler Zink, a freshman from Bradenton, Florida.

Erik Grevelius, a freshman from Stockholm, Sweden, was able to become especially close with him, since they shared a common issue in not speaking very much English.

“We both faced the same challenges, especially when it came down to the language barrier,” Grevelius said. “I feel that we have helped each other out and that has brought us really close together.”

The Frenchman’s future

Anselmo’s junior career was rife with achievements in the world of tennis, but when it comes to his future, both on and off the court, he has yet to decide exactly what path he would like to take.

Anselmo is currently undecided but plans to change that to marketing when he next gets the chance. In terms of his tennis career, the path to the professional tour is hazy for him at the moment.

Anselmo would like to play professionally but is leaving the decision up to his own skills and improvement in the future.

“If I play good enough, I want to try to go to the tour after [college], but I’m not sure yet,” he said. “I think I will try to go pro, but I want to be sure that my level is high enough.”

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