Patrick Wall signing his scholarship with Hofstra University. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

TENNIS

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

It’s game, set and match for promising Greytown tennis star Patrick Wall, who has scored a sports scholarship at an NCAA Division One university in the United States.

Patrick Wall playing for Scots College.

Eighteen-year-old Wall has signed a four-year scholarship to play tennis and study Business Administration, majoring in finance at Hoftstra University on Long Island, about 25 minutes from downtown Manhattan, New York.

Securing the scholarship has been a long and slow process for Wall since he graduated from Scots College, Wellington at the end of last year.

“I spoke to a lot of universities over the last few months,” he said. “I actually spent lockdown video-calling coaches and exchanging emails and messages.

“I spoke to the Hofstra coach [Jason Pasion] on the first week of lockdown and I spoke to a number of other colleges, mainly Division One, and when I signed with Hofstra it was a massive relief.

“Everything in the scholarship tennis-wise is covered from your rackets and clothing to your socks, down to like a bag of chips for on the road, and accommodation when we travel, flights and food, plus a large portion of our tuition fees are covered.”

Wall will play for the Hofstra men’s tennis team which contests Division One of the Colonial Athletics Conference.

“It’s sort of like interclub but with a team of six guys playing, and there are nine guys in our team. We’ll have home and away matches within our conference and teams from outside our conference.”

Playing in NCAA Division One quickly became a goal for Wall as a student at Scots College.

“I found out about the college tennis when I was at the end of Year 10. I was in an academy in Wellington which sort of encouraged you to look at it, and from the moment I found out about it Division One was my goal.

“I spoke to a lot of universities – Division One, Two and Three and I ended up in Division One so I was pretty stoked.”

Wall’s tennis talent was evident as a pupil at Masterton’s Hadlow School.

He started playing in the Wellington grade in Year Seven, and then Regional Two Interclub in Wairarapa in Year Eight.

Wall moved to Scots College in Year Nine and immediately began playing men’s division in Wellington, firstly for Kilbirnie. He quickly progressed from fifth division to the top division of Wellington Interclub for the Wellington club.

Wall is uncertain of his national ranking but said he qualified 16th for the national under-18 championships, which attracted an international field.

Since leaving school at the end of 2019 Wall has been living with his parents Matt and Alex on their property outside Greytown, coaching tennis at Hadlow and St Matthew’s Collegiate, and travelling to Wellington three times a week to train.

“I knew I was going to America and I just had to finalise my scholarship. I was working and training to keep up my game and earn money before university.”

Despite the covid-19 pandemic hitting the United States hard, in particular New York city, Wall is hopeful of taking up his scholarship on August 23.

“University is planning to open campus this fall but they’re evaluating all options I guess,” he said. “They’re hoping to be open but they’re looking at a possible delay or possibly starting online.

“The coach has told me they’ve changed the tennis schedule, and usually we travel quite a lot. But we’ll be playing a lot more home matches this season, just for this year, simply because of the coronavirus risk I guess.”

Although playing tennis at a high level is a focus for Wall in the US, he is not contemplating a future in the sport.

“At this stage I’m not really looking at going pro. I’m playing Division One, and a couple of guys in my team are looking at going pro, but that’s currently not one of my ambitions.

“I’m likely to play a few futures, low level pro tournaments in the States, during my summer breaks and see how I go in those, but at this stage I’m not really playing for a career in tennis.

“I’m really thrilled to be in New York city, especially doing a business degree. It opens up a lot of internship and employment opportunities, and then obviously playing in Division One with an international team – we have a guy from Russia, a couple from Spain. The overall package ticks all the boxes.

“It’s been a long process but now I’m just really excited to get on court and start the next chapter of my life.”