When Tyler Lu ’17 first picked up a tennis racket, he was merely trying to imitate his older brother, a tennis enthusiast. He never thought that only seven years later he would be ranked No. 84 in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Lu, who recently won both the singles and doubles titles at the Connecticut State Championships for the second consecutive year, began playing tennis at age 12 and never looked back. By the conclusion of his high school career, he was ranked No. 24 in the nation.
“My assistant coach and I first saw Tyler play at the U.S. Junior Hard Court Championships after his sophomore year of high school,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “We both thought ‘we need to get this guy’ because he was unbelievably fast on the court, fiercely competitive and hit with tremendous racket speed.”
Lu joined the Bulldogs in 2013 and had a remarkable inaugural season, posting an impressive 14–3 singles record in the fall, followed by a 16–4 singles record in the spring and a combined regular season doubles record of 13–5.
The sophomore attributed much of his success as a freshman to the help he received last season from his captain.
“The transition to college tennis was a lot smoother than I expected it to be,” Lu said. “I got very involved with my captain last year, and I think that really helped. He really took me under his wing and made it his goal to make sure I transitioned well into college and felt very comfortable with the team.”
Lu claimed two singles titles in the 2013 fall season — one in the “B” draw of the Ivy Plus Invitational and the other at the Connecticut State Championships. His success was not confined to singles, as he also won the Connecticut State Championships doubles crown alongside Photos Photiades ’17 and later won a doubles main draw match at the USTA/ITA Northeast Regionals with partner Martin Svenning ’16.
Lu’s success did not go unnoticed, as he was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Region Rookie of the Year and earned All-Ivy status for his performance in singles.
“Tyler’s motivation hasn’t let up in college, and he has been rewarded for his efforts,” Dorato said. “In fact, he is highly regarded by the other Ivy League coaches and players.”
Lu has continued his success in the 2014 fall season.
Based on his national ranking, he was the only Bulldog to compete at the ITA All-American Championships in September. After being knocked out in the Round of 16 at the USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Tournament, he redeemed himself by defending his two titles at the Connecticut State Championships last weekend.
“My parents always emphasized the idea of work ethic to me. I feel like my work ethic has put me where I am,” Lu said. “When you work hard, you have good coaches, and you have good teammates encouraging you, you have a good support system and good things will happen.”
Lu’s teammates and coaches alike cited Lu’s work ethic both on and off the court. Alex Hagermoser ’17 explained that while Lu is a talented player, it is his hard work and determination that make him a role model on the team.
Dorato further noted that Lu holds himself to a high standard and has an innate drive to succeed, something that is visible every day at practice.
“Tyler is disciplined and passionate to improve as much as possible during his college tennis career,” captain Zachary Krumholz ’15 said. “If he continues with his strong work ethic and dedication, we know he will have great results this season.”
While Lu has compiled an impressive list of titles and championships, rankings and records, the statistics are not what he considers most important.
It is the team dynamic, he said, that is the most significant characteristic of Yale men’s tennis.
“The teammates I have on the Yale tennis team are absolutely amazing. I don’t know how to thank them,” Lu said. “My teammates are my best friends — they mean so much to me, they have done so much for me and that is the biggest reason why I am here at Yale.”
Lu will next compete with the team at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships beginning Nov. 6.