By Jessica Schwager
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Things are looking up for the future of the Nebraska men’s tennis team.
The Huskers may not have had a Big 12 singles champion since the 1993 season or even doubles champions since 1996, but then again they haven’t had a talented freshman like Christopher Aumueller on their side.
“Chris is really an impact player,” Nebraska coach Kerry McDermott said. “It was the idea when he got here that he was going to help us go to another level nationally. He’s a very good player and an impact type of guy. He works super hard and sets the tone for us.”
Aumueller came to Nebraska after competing for Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Gymnasium (WWG) in Bayreuth, Germany, where he landed a No. 99 national ranking. He made an immediate impact for the Huskers as soon as he stepped foot on American soil.
Although NU had a tough go this season with no victories against Big 12 opponents, Aumueller picked up 18 wins individually and holds a team-high 4-2 record in conference play.
He also found success pairing up with fellow freshman Benedikt Lindheim. As frequents in doubles play at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, the dynamic German duo is on the winning end of a 16-8 regular-season record.
“Chris and Benedikt had never played together until they got to Nebraska,” McDermott said.”They read each other’s shots when they play together. They don’t get down and constantly pump each other up. They play with lots of excitement.”
As the only ranked player for Nebraska, Aumueller, who is 101st in singles nationally, tried his hand at the No. 1 spot for the first time during the 2009 season when NU played No. 14 Texas. Although the Huskers had 6-1 loss to the Longhorns, Aumueller put forth a tough battle against No. 21 Dimitar Kutrovsky. He fell 6-3 in the first set, but fought Kutrovsky to eight tie-breakers in the second. Despite the run by the NU freshman, Kutrovsky prevailed to take the 7-6 advantage.
McDermott’s decision to place Aumueller in the No. 1 spot was only natural as the season progressed.
“Chris has been winning matches all year long,” McDermott said. “He just keeps improving. He’s been beating ranked players and we thought we should use him in the top spot against Texas. He lost a tough match against a high-ranked player, but he always rises to the occasion and wants to improve. He’s the type of guy that keeps improving.”
Over the next several days, Aumueller and the Huskers will be preparing for the Big 12 Championships being held at the Headington Tennis Center in Norman, Okla., on April 23-26.
“I don’t have to do anything to prepare Chris,” McDermott said. “We have a big challenge ahead of us in the Big 12. We will have a lot of tough matches. It’s his first Big 12 tournament and Chris will do what it takes. We need to win our first round and see if we can do something. Chris wants to be a big part of it. He’ll really psyche up the team.”