Aug. 3, 2011
Men's tennis players Phillip Arndt and Michael Sicora will head to China later this month to represent the United States at the World University Games. We caught up with the two during their busy summer schedule to find out more about the trip.
GS: What can you tell us about the World University Games?
MS: It's the second largest games behind the Olympics as far as number of athletes. For tennis, there is singles, doubles and mixed doubles. I am not sure what I am playing yet, but there are four girls and four guys representing the United States.
GS: How did you make the team?
MS: We got a call from Ryan Freeman who is the coach for Team USA a long time ago. He said there were about 30 guys he was calling to interview. He already knew our tennis backgrounds a little bit, but he wanted to get to know us better as people. We then got a call about a week later letting us know we made Team USA. There are only four guys on the team, so I imagine it is pretty rare for two people from the same college team to compete in these games. I think the coach liked that Phil and I have played doubles together in the past. I expect us to be a doubles team in China.
PA: A bunch of people have asked me the same question, but I am not really sure. I heard about it from (Minnesota coach) Geoff Young. He said somebody contacted him about us playing for a team. He emailed me about it and told me what it was all about. It sounded legit and we talked about it and now here I am leaving in about a week for China. I think I am playing singles and doubles. Michael and I have played doubles together, and I I think that is one of the reasons why Ryan wanted both of us. We have played doubles and we lived together last year so we have chemistry off the court as well.
GS: This is a pretty unique opportunity as there are only four of you on the men's team.
MS: I think it is an amazing opportunity, and it is all because of tennis. You do not get to do things like this every day and being able to play tennis in another country is an incredible opportunity. It will be great to not only play tournaments but to see the culture as well and everything they have built for these games as well. It has been awesome to look online and see what they have so far.
PA: It's an amazing opportunity. When I first heard about it I thought it must have been a fluke or something. Only four male Americans get picked out of all of Division I tennis and I am one of the four? How is that possible? Why did I get picked? I keep asking myself that question. But it is going to be amazing. It is going to be an awesome experience and very few people get to do this sort of thing. I am both nervous and excited. In a way I am more nervous because I do not know what to expect. I do not know what you are supposed to do and what you are not supposed to do over there. Obviously, I am really excited about representing the country and playing tennis.
GS: China is essentially on the other side of the world. Have much traveling internationally have you done before?
MS: I played in a few International Tennis Federation tournaments, which is basically the world junior tour for players 18 and under. I played one in Costa Rica, a couple in Mexico and one in El Salvador when I was a junior in high school. I have actually been to China before as well.
PA: I have been to Europe but it was not tennis related. This is the first time I will be traveling outside of the country for tennis reasons. I went to Italy, Spain, England and France for two weeks last year for vacation. It is going to be nice to be with Michael and to have a friend there. We can help each other out.
GS: The dietary cuisine is different than the one you are used to. Are you going to venture out and sample the local food?
MS: When I was in Beijing we explored the local culture and of course that includes food. I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying to new things. I am not going to say I like everything I try, but I will at least try everything.
PA: I am not really the type of person who would venture out by himself and try new foods. I want to take care of my body and make sure I am physically fit to play the best tennis I can.
GS: In addition to getting ready for China, what else have you been up to this summer?
MS: Right now I am interning at Polaris Industries, a snowmobile, motorcycle and four-wheeler company. It has been a great experience so far. I am doing some marketing for them in their service and warranty division and it has kept me really busy. I have had to do a lot of traveling for work as well and have gone to Salt Lake City and Nashville and a couple of other places. I am trying to get that real-world experience. It has been hard to balance tennis with it, but I am doing my best make sure I am ready for China. I have been practicing a few times a week and have been running and lifting and making sure I am physically in shape and not just playing tennis. I have actually done a few triathlons this summer as well. I did the Chaska one, the Minneapolis Lifetime Fitness one the Buffalo triathlon. I like staying busy.
PA: This summer I have been playing a lot of tennis and training a lot. I have been doing a lot of running and playing in a lot of tournaments. I have been trying to get ready for China and trying to get ready for the upcoming school year.
GS: Do you know other members of Team USA?
PA: I know Greg Hirshman from Stanford. We actually met at the Rick Macci tennis academy last year. Three of the girls and three of the guys were there. I got to know Greg a little bit and I know Eric Quigley, he plays here at Kentucky. We are actually pretty good friends. We have hit a lot and talked a lot over the summer. So I know most of the people who are going, but I am sure the eight of us will get to know one another really well being together in a foreign country together for almost three weeks.
GS: What can you tell us about your schedule in China?
MS: I am leaving August 6 and we start practice on August 11. Matches begin on August 14 and if we are winning then we will play all the way until August 21. Once we get there we are going to be pretty confined to the athlete village area and the tennis courts I think. Once the games are done, we are planning to do a little sightseeing but that is on our own time. When we are there for the games we will be in the zone. My father is coming over with me and we will actually be attending a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert when we get there. That is how we are beginning the week before the tennis starts.
GS: You probably will be playing opponents you have never even heard of before. Will that be weird for you?
PA: I do not know anything about anyone that I am playing. I know people who know people who are playing for other countries in the event, but I do not know anyone personally who is playing for another country. That is what happens most of the time whenever you play matches. In college it is a lot easier because you know of the other player and there is scouting reports. But that is one of the reasons why it is going to be really exciting because you have no idea who the other person is on the other side of the court. You have never heard their name before. It will be a really good challenge because you do not know anything about them. If you win the match, that means you are a better player and were able to figure them out better than they could figure you out.