BY MATTHEW J. VAN WAGENEN
Men’s tennis team captain senior Paul Jarzynka’s four year Franciscan career draws to a close this spring.
Jarzynka, a veteran player, has played for the Barons since he arrived as a freshman in the fall semester of 2010. He played an essential role in helping the young team, only in its second year of existence, to success.
“(It was) the ‘Fab Five’ and ‘the King,’” said Jarzynka. “We shocked the world, and that was huge.”
Jarzynka’s love of tennis goes back to 7th grade, when he first picked up the sport.
He had played football up through his freshman year at Lumen Christi High School in Jackson, Mich. Due to administrative decisions, boys’ tennis was moved to the fall, and he had to decide which sport he wanted to pursue.
“I wanted to do something that had never been done before,” said Jarzynka. “It’s kind of been my mantra.”
He had a lengthy list of achievements during high school: a record of 91 wins and 24 losses, an individual state title in 2008, and an all-state slot in 2009 as a junior. After getting injured in the spring of 2009, he pushed his way through his senior season determined to get into top form again, and was ready for action when he arrived at Franciscan.
In his sophomore year of college, the Barons team was favored to repeat their previous conference title, but was upset in the conference tournament. This only fueled the fire for him and his teammates, who went on to have an incredible next season.
They became conference champions in 2013, setting a record as the first Franciscan University team to ever compete in the NCAA DIII tournament. The Barons made it to the second round where they played the then-number two team in DIII nation-wide, Kenyon College.
This season, Jarzynka is thoroughly excited and confident in his teammates to be very successful yet again, and says the team is setting up for a bright future.
“We have great potential, a lot of young guys, a lot of talent down low,” said Jarzynka.
After last year’s great successes, most notably reaching NCAA DIII tournament level, the Barons want to get back to that level again.
“Anything short of a conference title is not good enough,” said Jarzynka.
Jarzynka said he is proud of not only his personal achievements but has enjoyed the chance to build a tight-knit relationship with his
“I would come to Franciscan all over again,” said Jarzynka. “To do what we have done with the tennis program is unheard of. To win two conference titles in the first four years of a program is ridiculous … I think you have to have a certain swagger. You have to find that right mix that borders on overconfidence and not enough confidence. We found that swagger, and that’s why we’ve been successful.”