By Lauren Fender
Big 12 Campus Corespondent
Surprisingly enough, Frankfort, Germany, native Julian Lenz grew up with many tennis connections to Waco, Texas. Lenz watched as Baylor won the NCAA Team Championship in 2004 with three Germans on the team.
“Two of them did really well on the professional tour,” said Lenz, a junior at Baylor. “One of them is Benni Becker who is still playing, and ranked in the top 40 in the world. He is a pretty big deal in Germany and I knew who he was and that he went to Baylor. I also knew our assistant coach. He is from Frankfort and that is where I am from, so I had that connection as well.”
When recruiting time rolled around, Lenz received several offers from other big tennis schools, but he never considered going anywhere but Baylor.
“I guess the pipeline goes straight from Germany to Waco,” said Lenz.
Before making the journey across the Atlantic Ocean to new his home, Lenz set his sights on achieving greatness- inspired by his fellow German Baylor Bears he witnessed in 2004.
“Before I came to college I had specific goals that I wanted to reach,” said Lenz. “My first goal and biggest goal was to become No. 1 in the nation, and I reached that in the fall. That was one of the biggest steps I have had. It is one of the biggest successes I have had in college so far. Now I am trying to improve as much as possible. I am preparing for the professional tour. I am improving a lot here. We have a great coaching staff.”
As head coach Matt Knoll has witnessed Lenz’ determination over three years to fine tune his game and couldn’t be more proud of his athlete’s persistence.
“He is a good tennis player, who has grown to the point now where he sees that he has a chance to play tennis [professionally] and the reality of that is starting to match up with the expectations,” Knoll said. “He still has a long way to go, but it helps the college team to have a guy you can run out there at No. 1 that you feel has a chance to be a superstar and beat anyone in the country.”
During his short time at Baylor, Lenz has attained several awards, including being named an ITA All-American as a sophomore; yet, he walks with a humble confidence about his accolades.
“I have never considered myself really good,” Lenz said. “It is hard to say that about yourself. I have had a couple of pretty big successes like winning the US Open in juniors and the German Championship in singles and doubles in the 18 and under event. I have done pretty well on the pro circuit the past couple of years.”
With success early in his career, Lenz looks to legends of the game as his benchmark.
“I always looked up to Roger Federer because he is such a legend player,” said Lenz. “The way he moves on the court and the way he plays with really clean technique. Also off the court he is a really nice guy. He knows what to say to the media and he is involved in a lot of charity stuff. It is nice to look up to someone like him.”
Roger Federer’s altruistic spirit inspired Lenz to set another goal for his time on the professional circuit.
“I want to play well on the tour and keep improving to show people who I am that I am not just doing it for the money, but that I am doing it because I love to play,” Lenz said.
Lenz developed this mentality in hopes of reshaping Germany’s perception of tennis and its players.
“We have a lot of guys over there that are really cocky,” Lenz said. “They don’t really want to play for their country. If I can get up there in the top 100 players I want to play for Germany and try to inspire little kids and people to cheer for tennis and watch tennis again. In the 80’s and 90’s we had a lot of really good players and it was on a lot of big TV channels but now it is nothing because the players basically destroyed the tennis market. I am trying to get little kids involved and excited for tennis again.”