Kostanov guiding UW tennis team

first_imgOn a sports team, one of the most important and difficult things to obtain is the respect of your peers. It takes a person with a special mix of skill and discipline to gain that respect from his teammates. Despite being on the team for only two years, senior Alexander Kostanov has done just that.Kostanov began playing tennis at the age of seven in his hometown of Kursk, Russia, about a two-hour drive from the Ukrainian border. His father is a tennis instructor and when Kostanov was young, his father provided the extra push for him to pursue his passion for tennis.After high school, Kostanov committed to the University of South Carolina, and he spent his freshman and sophomore years with the Gamecocks, putting up a record of 22-33 in singles and 21-28 doubles. His strong work ethic and skill helped make him one of South Carolina’s top tennis players by the end of his sophomore campaign, playing in the number one singles spot for the final five games of the season.After his sophomore year, Kostanov was looking for more of a challenge on the court and in the classroom. While looking for a Big Ten school that would fit his intellectual and tennis needs, he stumbled upon a Wisconsin team looking to add players.“We were definitely one of the schools he was looking at,” Head Coach Greg Van Emburgh remembered. “He wanted to be part of a solid program in the Big Ten. He felt like indoors would really suit his game so it was just an all-around nice fit.”The nice fit did not stop at just the tennis facilities. Kostanov’s stoic personality and hard work ethic melded into the team well from the very beginning.“He fit in right away,” Assistant Coach Joe Bates said. “The guys took him seriously, as a player and a person, and they have respected him for it from the beginning.”Because of his work ethic and his new environment, Kostanov quickly worked up the ranks on Wisconsin’s tennis squad. His junior year, Kostanov played primarily in the number two slot posting a record of 13-16 on the year. He fit in even better while playing doubles where – at the number two spot – he finished with a 8-6 record.His success has continued into his senior year.With just two matches left before the Big Ten tournament, Kostanov has nearly split his singles matchups with a record of 14-13. In doubles, he was also recently moved up to join powers with Wisconsin’s other senior tennis player, Billy Bertha. Despite lingering injuries, the duo has been able to post a 3-5 record this year.With Kostanov leaving the team next year, the coaches are looking to fill the hole he will leave. His hard work ethic and strong  have always been an asset to the team, helping get the players on task and in the right state of mind.“He is the type of person that leads by example,” Van Emburgh said. “I don’t think he has ever been late to practice. He always works as hard as he possibly can. Every time he is here he is competitive and he tries to do the best he can. Whether he is on the practice court or playing you know what you are going to get from Alex.”As anyone can see from any number of examples in the sports world, respect comes from a player’s work ethic and leadership. Kostanov has that special blend of both that has helped him lead the Badgers in his two years with the program. After he is done with his collegiate play, Kostanov will still be around campus finishing his degree in economics when the season comes to an end. But what comes after that is a mystery, even to Kostanov.“More than likely I will go back [to Russia],” Kotanov said. “But I am not sure, maybe I will find something to do around here.”last_img