“Like anything, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”
While CHS freshman Daniel Papacica’s description of the conditions necessary to become a collegiately competitive tennis player seem simple enough, his training and commitment affirm that these few words do not do justice to the immense difficulty of the process.
“I play at least three hours of a tennis a day each week, go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, do long-distance running throughout the week to improve my stamina and play tournaments on the weekend [that] can be up to nine matches long,” Papacica says.
Obviously, the freshman’s dedication has paid dividends to his personal progress as a tennis player as well as his career as a member of the Carmel varsity tennis team. Papacica has scorched the competition this season, boasting an impressive 12–0 record playing in both the spots of no. 1 and no. 2 singles.
Papacica’s accomplishments are certainly palpable to the everyday viewer, but it is apparent that his dedication and hard work have affected the perception of players and coaches alike.
Former top 500 world-ranked player on the Association of Tennis Professionals and current CHS varsity coach Jim Somerville finds Papacica’s mature demeanor as a player particularly impressive.
“Daniel Papacica has the four qualities a coach looks for in an athlete: talent, discipline, drive and focus,” Somerville says. “When Daniel is competing his focus is very strong. He is a task-oriented player [who] is not rattled by the change in momentum of a match, nor does he overthink the opponents he competes against. He is focused on playing his game to the best of his ability.”
Papacica’s teammates agree.
“He competes better than anyone and constructs points intelligently, especially for how old he is,” says four-year varsity member and two-year team captain Nick Combs. “His humility in his accomplishments is what stands out the most.”
Certainly, Papacica will serve as a key cog in the CHS tennis team machine and continue to enjoy success in his play for the remainder of his high school career, but the freshman has his eyes set on bigger objectives.
“My ultimate ambition is to use tennis to get a scholarship into college and use that to boost my career and maybe even play tennis professionally,” Papacica explains.
However, he knows better than anyone that adversity is inevitable in the pursuit of excellence.
“Around a year ago, I broke my knee when I was playing. I was just getting to top ranks, and at that time, it devastated me because I thought it might be the end of my career.”
Though Papacica notes that coming back to tennis proved frustrating in the first couple months, he was ultimately able to overcome his hardship and is back on track to becoming the best player he can be.
In recent years, Papacica has been ranked as high as top 10 in Northern California and top 100 nationally for the Boys 14 Singles division. Papacica has since moved onto the Boys 16 Singles division, where he is currently ranked top 50 in Northern California and top 300 nationally.
Daniel Papacica will look to continue not only his undefeated season, but to continue with a mindset that challenges him to achieve a goal every time he steps on the court.