Tobias Fanselow Feature Story
By ODU Athletics
April 19, 2011
Old Dominion University tennis player Tobias Fanselow has had a solid career in his four years at ODU. Fanselow is having another solid season as a senior. ODUSports.com featured Fanselow this week.
Tobias Fanselow was born and raised in Germany, but when he was thirteen he moved to Spain by himself to attend an academy that provided him with the opportunity to play tennis everyday and get an education. He plays the number one position on the Old Dominion men's tennis team and is having a successful season, tallying a singles record of 21-4 thus far this season and an 18-6 doubles record with partner Krzysztof Muzalewski.
Off the court, Fanselow is tri-lingual, being fluent in German, Spanish, and English, which will help in his major of International Business. He was raised speaking German, but enrolled in an English Learning Center in Germany to learn English. While in Spain he picked up Spanish, mainly during his junior and senior years of high school.
He started playing tennis when he was eleven, and then moved to an academy in Spain when he was thirteen to play tennis everyday. At this academy, he lived in dorms with four to five roommates who all came from different countries as well. Their go-to language was English so they all could communicate.
"Tennis in the morning, tennis in the afternoon, and then school, and of course fitness was in there as well," he said about his daily schedule at the academy.
Tennis was their focus in the morning, and was followed by classes from five to nine. Their campus consisted of school, tennis, dorms and the restaurant they ate at, comparing the experience to be much like college life.
"While I was in my last year of high school in Spain, I heard about the opportunity of playing college tennis and receiving a scholarship in the States, so I contacted coaches over here," Fanselow recalled. Through a company in Germany, he was able to contact coaches in the United States.
"One of them was Darryl, and Darryl contacted me, and some other coaches did. So I planned a trip with my dad and we visited some schools, and I ended up here," Fanselow said. His father was completely for him coming to the United States and saw it as a great opportunity to play tennis and continue his education, and while his mother agreed, she was sad that he would be leaving because she was losing another son from her house.
As a freshman, he experienced many of the same difficulties as any other freshman would. He was kind of clueless and far from his parents, but unlike his other classmates, he was across the world from his parents and adjusting to a huge time difference, which he said was one of the most difficult things for him.
"The times when we eat dinner and lunch was different for me," Fanselow said. "In Spain they like to eat late. My freshman year I used to miss the hours of the cafeteria because it was too early."
Although, he was already used to living without his parents, it was very different because instead of being a few hours away, they were now overseas. Many of his teammates were from all over the world as well so he had them to lean on. Although it was difficult in the beginning, he was able to adjust very quickly since he was used to being around different cultures and languages. He even noted that he felt like the Americans on the teams were the ones who felt weird because they had to adjust more to the other languages.
Fanselow's brother also plays tennis in the United States, but he is across the country at Pepperdine University in California.
"We Skype a lot and Facebook, but I follow all of his matches and he is doing great." He said. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to visit his brother, but hopes he will be able to soon. Their parents try to visit the states to see their sons once or twice a year.
"My parents are known for surprise visits," Fanselow says, "They come every year. They came freshman year, sophomore year, junior year. Every time around March, April, May, but they never tell me."
He his excited that as a senior, he finally knows when they are coming and can clean his apartment before their arrival for graduation on May 7. He has already seen them once this year when they went to see his brother then stopped here for a couple of days. His parents are both dentists and are currently living in Dubai.
In regards to tennis, Fanselow has been especially successful this year, which he contributes to his experience and especially to what he learned his freshman and sophomore year from Aleksandr Seleznev.
"I feel like experience plays a huge role," he said, "I win many matches just by doing the basic things like putting the ball in the court. Its like things you have to learn as a freshman or sophomore."
It really comes down to the basics he believes and that's something he's learned over the years and gotten better at. In college tennis, at the number one spot, it is very competitive and there are no easy matches so he tries to stay as consistent as possible.
"Like my coach always says, `you cannot take your hands out of the fire,'" Fanselow said, "And I think you learn this."
These are the things that as a senior he tried to pass on to his younger teammates. He loves playing doubles with his partner Krzysztof Muzalewski, who is from Poland. They use English to communicate on the court.
"He's very competitive. He always wants to win, not that I want to lose, but he gets me fired up," he said about playing with Muzalewski.
Fanselow and the Monarchs compete in the CAA tournament on Friday, as they open against William and Mary at 8:30 a.m. at the Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center.
Click on the video link below to watch Fanselow highlights from the season.