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Along came Polley

first_imgOne of the general rules when choosing a college is to make sure your decision is as informed as possible, meaning that a campus visit is all but a must. However Badger sophomore tennis player Nolan Polley, decided that when he heard his coach was going to become the men’s tennis head coach at the University of Wisconsin, he knew all he needed.Before last season began, Polley learned that Greg Van Emburgh, his long-time high school coach and assistant coach at the University of Kentucky, got the nod to head coach UW and Polley, in a classic display of loyalty packed up and headed north to a school he had never before visited.”That just means that he has a lot of faith in our head coach if he’s going to transfer and go with a guy who — he’s never set foot on this campus,” assistant coach Danny Westerman said.Polley has developed into the No. 2 singles player on the Badgers in his first year since transferring from the University of Kentucky, compiling an 11-3 record in spring play while remaining a top student in the classroom as well.Last fall, the Lexington, Ky., native player led Wisconsin with 13 singles victories, finishing 13-5 overall. His most notable win came as an unseeded player against Indiana’s Dima Ishtuganov in the championship match of the Big Ten tournament.”[It was] definitely the best moment of my tennis career,” Polley said. “Going into it I didn’t really have any expectations, but I went in there with nothing to lose and played as hard as I could — got through a couple tough three set matches and came out as the winner. That’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”The power-serving left-hander takes control of his matches by serving well and executing on volleys. Being left-handed is a key to his success because it provides different angles and spins that the typical right-handed player isn’t used to seeing.”In tennis, that different serve and different spins help to kind of throw [the opponent] off a little bit,” Polley said. “And you just don’t see a lot of lefty’s in tennis.”Polley uses this difference to his advantage, making a mark already in just his first year at Wisconsin.”I think Nolan has really raised his level up this year. Obviously by doing well, in not only his dual matches, but winning the Big Ten’s in the fall, I think he realizes that he can be a top player not only in the Big Ten, but also on a national level.” Not only is Polley dedicated to tennis on a continual basis, but he’s committed to school as well. He plans on majoring in mechanical engineering.”Nolan, he’s probably what exemplifies a student-athlete,” Westerman said. “I mean he’s just bringing it today and all year, coming in it has been a joy for me to work with him. He takes care of his schoolwork, [and] takes care of it on the court.”Polley didn’t always show the poise and abilities seen today on the tennis court. He began playing sports at a young age, trying everything before settling on tennis around 13. He attributes his decision to commit to tennis because he was good at it and his dad played as well.Polley’s first real chance to bask in the limelight was in high school where he led Dunbar High to its first-ever state championship during his junior year. In his senior year, they repeated as State Champs.”It’s a really big deal in Kentucky, for high school I guess, and it was fun to go out there and help my team,” said Polley. “In my junior year we won the state championship for the first time. That was really fun. Then to repeat my senior year was just extra.”Between matches, practices and schoolwork, Polley doesn’t get much time to himself. But when he does, he enjoys lying down on a couch and catching whatever’s on Comedy Central. He also enjoys getting in a good round of golf.For the rest of the season and beyond, the loyal and hardworking Polley will try to lead by example, and hopes to move forward because he is just as hungry as ever to add to his already impressive list of accomplishments.”He’s starting to really find his own way in what his ability in tennis is and I think really his best years are to come,” Van Emburgh said.last_img

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