Sophomore tennis star shines in face of tough competition

Sophomore tennis player Nick Litsky has continued his success from last year as he reached the semifinals of the ITA Northeast Regionals—an achievement that no player has attained in two years. Photo By: Sofia Benitez
Sophomore tennis player Nick Litsky has continued his success from last year as he reached the semifinals of the ITA Northeast Regionals—an achievement that no player has attained in two years. Photo By:  Sofia Benitez
Sophomore tennis player Nick Litsky has continued his success from last year as he reached the semifinals of the ITA Northeast Regionals—an achievement that no player has attained in two years. Photo By: Sofia Benitez

Sophomore Nick Litsky has a current record of 5-2 this season. In both matches he lost, the match went into three sets; while in only one of his winning matches did the match extend into a third set. Litsky made it to the semifinals in the ITA Northeast Regionals this year, a stunning achievement that hasn’t been reached by a Vassar player since Andrew Guzick did it two years ago. This weekend he won his first Liberty League match against Union College’s junior T.J. Moor in a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Litsky has been playing tennis since he was ten. Though he dabbled in baseball and soccer when he was younger, through the influence of his father he was led down the path of tennis. In an emailed response Litsky wrote, “My dad played in college and a little bit in the lower stages of the pros so I thought this was the one [sport] I could really excel at.” By the time he was a senior in high school, Litsky had reached a state ranking of 37 in Florida, and won two major state doubles tournaments.

Coming from Florida, one of the most competititve centers for tennis in the world, Litsky had his reservations about the standard he would be playing to at a place like Vassar, “ [It’s} much more competitive than I had expected it to be when I was being recruited by the coach. It’s made me realize that if I want to help our teams win Liberty Leagues I have to train very hard every day of the week whether it is off season or in season.” This is exactly the kind of attitude that Coach Wong points to as one of Litsky’s strongest attributes, “[He] is a pleasure to work with in that he is a hard worker and since he is talented, he can do well with most things we emphasize.”

The hard work he puts in is not only so he can make it past the ITA semis next year but also the match ups with Skidmore College are ones Litsky looks forward to. Last year he lost to Skidmore’s senior Oliver Loutsenko in straight sets, only winning one game the entire match. This year, however, he was able to get his own back beating Skidmore’s Kit Sanderson junior in a three set victory at the ITA Championship. Though he doesn’t have a personal rival, Litsky writes, “I look forward to playing any matches against Skidmore. They have some very good players on their team, which has helped them keep a national ranking over the years. Every time I have played someone on their team it has always been a very competitive match and I always look forward to the chance to play them.” Though he lost to Loutsenko last year at the ITA Championship, during the regular season, it was one of only two matches that Vassar won in their match against Skidmore in March.

Litsky has shown himself to be a very competent tennis player. His competitive nature, particularly when faced with an opponent from Skidmore, comes through even in victory. His teammate and captain, junior Daniel Cooper, in an emailed response outlined one particular instance that has since garnered Litsky with a nickname. “A classic Litsky story is when we played Denison last year. He played a great match against a tough opponent, but complained about his shoes slipping every time he lost a point. He ended up winning the match in 3 tight sets, and after winning the last point, immediately took off his shoes and hurled them toward his tennis bag in frustration. This earned Litsky the nickname, ‘Slipsky.’” Coach Wong writes that Litsky’s competitive nature can get the better of him, “He sometimes lets his anger and temper get to him.” But Wong does go on to comment on his changing temperament, “It is much improved from last year.”

His ability to control his anger is not the only thing that has improved since last year. Coach Wong writes, “With regards to his actual shots I would say his backhand is improved and he is serving a little better as well. I think his confidence is quite high right now and he is doing a better job of executing game plans and strategies against his opponents.”

While aspects of his game are improving, Coach Wong is quick to praise the stronger aspects of his play, those being his forehand and baseline shots, “I would describe Litsky as an aggressive baseliner. He is extremely talented from the baseline and is one of the best ball strikers I have coached. His forehand in particular is a weapon as he is best when he is controlling points with that shot. His shot making ability is also quite remarkable as he can create some outstanding shots in difficult situations.” Cooper adds to this recommendation, writing, “He has a really tricky game that gives a lot of players trouble (including myself). He likes to go for shots that are reminiscent of when basketball players try to beat the buzzer when they don’t realize they have a bunch of time left.”

Coach Wong describes Litsky as a typical tennis player, “I think many tennis players are quirky and Litsky is definitely another such one. He has his match rituals which he follows each match.”  Cooper adds to this character writing, “In practice, Litsky is pretty goofy. He likes to crack jokes about meatloaf and Stan Marsh.”

Litsky doesn’t seem to have much time to devote outside of his studies due to his intense focus on tennis, “I am not involved in many activities outside of class but wish I was. It’s a lot of work being a student athlete for a great school like Vassar and I need as much time as possible if I want to succeed in the classroom and on the court.” Litsky is currently considering a major in neuroscience. If he brings the same kind of commitment to his studies that he does to the court, then it’s no wonder he has little time for other activities.

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