Player Profile: Nathan Mao
Nathan Mao, of Topsham, ME, is currently the No. 2 ranked New England Junior in the Boys’ 18s division. He is a junior at Mr. Ararat High School in Topsham and trains at Portland Country Club with his coach, Eliot Potvin. Nathan has been on a roll since February 1, winning the New England Boys’ 18s L3 Championship and reaching the semifinals of a USTA National Level 2 tournament in Las Vegas in consecutive weekends. Most recently, Nathan competed at the National Spring Team Championships, where he won the Boys’ Sportsmanship Award. His team took home the Team Spirit Award at the event.
We caught up with Nathan to learn a little more about him, what it means to him to be a good sport and where he’s at in the college recruiting process.
When did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis at age 1, and I played my first tournament at age 7.
Favorite pro player?
My favorite pro player is Rafael Nadal.
Favorite cross-training sport?
What equipment are you currently using?
Racquet: Yonex VCORE SV 95
String: Laserfibre Native Tour
Clothing and shoes: Lotto (recently changed)
What's one item that you always have in your tennis bag?
I always keep winter gloves in my bag to keep my hands warm before I play.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can wiggle my ears.
Favorite activity/hobby outside of tennis?
What was your experience like at Spring Team Championships?
I had a lot of fun at Spring Team this year, and it remains one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I love playing on a team which is also why I've played for New England at either Zonals or Intersectionals every summer since I was twelve.
What did it mean to you to win the Sportsmanship Award?
Ever since I was young, my coaches have worked with me on staying level headed on the court and moving on from past mistakes. Always showing a positive attitude has been something that I have put a lot of work into, so it feels really nice for it to be recognized with this sportsmanship award.
How much emphasis do you put on sportsmanship when you're out there competing?
I have always valued sportsmanship on the court, and I think it’s a very important part of the game.
What was it like winning the Team Spirit Award?
It helped a lot that we all got along on and off the court. We always supported each other whether we were winning, losing, playing our own match, or cheering from the sidelines. The tournament director told us he gave us the award not because we were the loudest, but because we were always there for each other, even after a tough loss.
What are your short-term or long-term tennis goals?
Long term, I'm looking to play D1 tennis in college and try playing some pro tournaments and see how far I can go. But right now my goal for the next few weeks is just to get on the court.
What has the college recruiting process been like for you thus far?
The college recruiting process definitely ramped up. In the past nine months, I've talked to a lot of coaches and visited a bunch of schools. It can be a little stressful at times, but I've enjoyed the process as much as I can and let myself be excited for the future.
What are you looking for in your ideal school?
My ideal school would have strong academics, a coach and a team that I really like and get along with, and a tennis program that helps me grow as a player.
What are you doing to keep busy during the self-quarantine?
Aside from school work online, I'm mostly playing video games. But I do make sure to get outside at least once a day even if it's just to take a walk.