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Pride profile: Richman leads improving tennis team

By Jared Goodman - STAFF WRITERresizeTENNISHofstra’s tennis team has enjoyed recent improvement thanks to three-year captain, senior Ari Richman.

The top player on the team since his emergence as a freshman in the fall of 2011, Richman led the men’s team to a nail-biting 4-3 victory over the University of Delaware this past year, their first victory against the Fightin’ Blue Hens in nearly a decade.

The men’s team looks even stronger coming back this year, with high playoff expectations.

There is no argument that the men’s tennis team would not be nearly as solid without Richman, the strength of their first singles and doubles. Richman’s rise is an unexpected story. When asked about his roots with tennis, Richman said, “When I was a little kid, I played soccer and nobody passed me the ball, so I got really upset. When I talked to my parents about it they told me to play an individual sport, and when I asked what sports were individual, they said tennis and I said ‘sure.’ I started playing when I was nine.”

Surprisingly though, Richman’s interest in tennis was personal. As he explained, his parents never played tennis. They supported his interest in playing, but they never pushed him to play, it all was on him.

Like many young tennis players, Ari got involved with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). He mentioned, “I started getting good results and moving up the standings.”

Richman’s real first acknowledgment of his serious skills happened when he was 16, “When I was 16-years-old, I played on the under-18 team in the Macabbi Games. I heard about it and went to the University of Pennsylvania to try and qualify. They wanted six players. I did the tournament, did well and was invited to play. It was a pretty cool experience.”

Richman’s tennis talents eventually led him to Hofstra. “I was interested in creative writing and communications, so I made sure I looked for a school that offered what I was looking to study. I contacted Hofstra and they fit my match, so I chose to go here.”

Richman’s freshman season was memorable to him. Coming in, Richman started off sharing time at first and second singles. He recalled also playing first doubles with partner Adrian Bailly, a teammate from France. “We had a great time playing together and had some very good wins.”

His first year, the Pride were only able to hold a 7-9 record. The Pride’s worst season with Richman was his sophomore year when the team held a 5-11 record. But as Richman reached his junior year, his team re-emerged as legitimate conference opponent holding a respectable 6-7 record, including the big conference win over Delaware, their first conference victory with Richman.

As the team starts off this season with a 1-0 record, the team plans to make the most of the season.

When asked about Richman’s contributions as captain, teammate Leonardo Pires said, “Ari means a lot to the team, he always pushes us in practice and workouts. Always pumps us up before matches, and he is very organized and keeps us all on track. He’s a great person.”

When asked about his personal relation with Richman, Pires simply stated, “He is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”

Now that Richman is in his last season, he expressed a few things he has learned during his time at Hofstra, “A lot of people dwell on the idea that college doesn’t last forever and focus on that the last year. You should just focus on what is going to happen next. I want my teammates to enjoy the tennis trips and the overall experience. Enjoy the student athlete lifestyle.”

As Richman focuses on his future, his plans include graduate school, where he hopes to focus on sports management and sports administration, and of course play a little tennis too.

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