Iowa tennis player Piotr Smietana volleys the ball during a match against Cornell University on Friday, Mar. 2, 2018. Smietana lost his match 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-4 and the Big Red defeated the Hawkeyes 4-3. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)
By Lauren Jimmerson, The Daily Iowan
Four thousand, eight hundred sixty-seven miles. That’s the distance Iowa men’s tennis player Piotr Smietana traveled to chase his dream as a professional tennis player.
Before becoming a Hawkeye, Smietana easily carved up the junior tennis field, winning three Polish National Championships, two international singles tournament titles, four international doubles tournament titles, and a bronze at the 2016 Polish Senior Championships.
But while he had little to no problems with his competition on the court, the Iowa freshman’s biggest challenge was his transition to the college game.
“It was really hard for me,” Smietana said. “I had to make a lot of adjustments. Time management was the first one … the second key was to find a common ground with Ross [coach Wilson] … and the last thing [was] the team.”
The fall season was rocky for Smietana. The freshman lost numerous close matches but also learned about the college-tennis environment.
“Here, it’s about energy,” he said.
Taking that energy into consideration, Smietana honed in on a new competitive mindset, dug down while fighting, and made the most in big moments.
Rounding out October with a 3-7 record, Smietana and head coach Ross Wilson focused their efforts on his offense.
“My play style is pretty much the same,” he said. “I’m really good from the baseline … boys sometimes call me the Great Wall of China.”