In a new series of monthly sporting Q&A’s, I have been looking around the many sports in the University. It is my aim over the course of the incoming months, until the end of the term, to grab some answers from some of the universities sporting stars.
This month I have decided to start with the “Latvian Laser,” that is Arturo Laz.
Arturo, who, of course, hails from Latvia, is a first-year sports and psychology student. However, Arturo is also an extremely accomplished and confident Tennis player, who has starred for the university on many occasions this season, where only injury seen to his non-inclusion.
I asked Arturo a few questions on his career in Tennis, on his life in general and, of course, on his first year experience at Stirling University.
So how old were you when you took the tennis bat into your hand?
“The first time I took a tennis racquet in my hand was when I was 2 years old. My mother had played tennis as a form of exercise while she was still pregnant with me, and it turns out I was pretty good at it. I didn’t start playing and training until I was about 9, I quickly picked it up and it has been my job since then.”
Is Tennis a big sport in Latvia?
“Tennis has been getting bigger in the last 10 years. We have a grand slam champion, Jelena Ostapenko, who I grew up with and know well. We currently have 2 women in the top 30 WTA and 1 male player who is currently ranked top 100 ATP, his name is Ernests Gulbis and he used to be number 9 ATP. He is also a dear friend of mine who I have looked up to since I was a kid.”
Who is your favourite Tennis player and inspiration?
“I will have to go with my country man Ernests Gulbis, his style of play is power, and I see myself playing the same way. I have trained and worked with him for for a little bit over the years, but he is a huge inspiration to me.”
How far would you like to go in the game?
“I would like to get to the best of my abilities, as long as I feel I am leaving it all out there and competing to the best of my abilities, I will be a happy man. If I go far in somebody’s eyes, doesn’t matter to me, I just want to be the best version of myself.”
Do you have any personal pre-match superstitions or rituals, like for eg: certain foods or dress code?
“I have a process which includes having a coffee in the morning and talking to family, it’s always the best way for me to approach my matches. Just keeping a chill mind-set and go out there and do my best.”
Are you enjoying your game in the facilities at Stirling University?
“The facilities are great, we always have time to play and train. I just love the sport, and where I grew up we didn’t have a facility near the level it is here.”
How do you see the game of tennis developing at the university?
“The university has great coaching staff, they help lots of players including myself. It is a very relaxed but hardworking atmosphere which I enjoy. The level of coaching is as good as I have seen it around the world. Mind you I have traveled and been a part of many top player crew, meaning I have been a sparring partner and seen the best of coaching there is, and the coaches here are great.”
What tennis equipment do you use, and if so, is there a reason why?
“I use Head racquets and Nike apparel; I have contracts with certain companies, that’s why I use these brands. I can’t, however, give more detail than that.”
Have you any advice for other students who might wish to take up tennis while they are at university?
“Just give it a try and see if you like it. I often say that tennis is like a highly addictive drug once you start you can’t stop.”
And last but not least, if there was one tournament in tennis you would most like to win, what one is it and why?
“Wimbledon, mainly because it’s the elegance of the tournament and its traditions, I grew up watching players like Sampras and Agassi play there and always wanted to have the opportunity to show my aggressive style of play there.”
This interview has been conducted by Sherman Wright, the first in a new series of sporting Q&As.