After being just one match away from bringing the NCAA men’s singles championship to Ohio State University, Mikael Torpegaard is enjoying an ATP Challenger Tour breakthrough on his home campus.
The 22 year old from Denmark and current junior at OSU won his first main draw Challenger match at this week’s $50,000 event in Columbus, Ohio, prevailing on Tuesday over American Nicolas Meister. Torpegaard then delighted the home crowd with a three-set win over Canadian Peter Polansky in a second-round match on Wednesday.
“It was super cool. I’m happy to figure out the level I need to be at going forward,” said Torpegaard. “I know that I made the right decision going to college and also coming to OSU. I’ve had amazing coaches here and my time at OSU has really prepared me for a pro career on and off the court.”
Torpegaard finished his sophomore year at OSU with a 34-5 record, topping it off with a runner-up showing at the NCAA men’s singles championship last May. He also had the opportunity to play against some the world’s best players at the beginning of his sophomore year, falling to Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer in a Davis Cup tie for Denmark against Spain last September.
The Dane used those experiences to have a successful summer on the ITF Futures circuit, posting a 15-4 record and winning his first pro singles title last month in Finland.
“There are actually a lot of similarities between college tennis and Challenger tennis because a lot of the top college players could play at this level,” said Torpegaard. “But the biggest difference is knowing the struggle of travel alone, the economic aspect and putting all of those pieces together. You do get a lot of help in college tennis, a lot of matches and everything is kind of set up for you.”
Torpegaard has been one of the top players in Denmark for the past three years. Although he’s optimistic about how tennis is growing in the country, he said that college tennis is an ideal path for players from smaller nations who are eager to eventually make it onto the ATP World Tour.
“It’s tough to find support from sponsors, so people are now seeing college tennis as a good option,” said Torpegaard. “I think people are realizing that college tennis is the way forward, whereas before, the guys at the head of my federation thought that college tennis is where good players go to die. I’m glad people are starting to realize that there’s more than one way to make it and that college tennis can be used as a stepping stone towards a professional career.”