Pacific University's thunder from Down Under
It's not often that a Division III school gets an international athlete to come play for their collegiate team. But for Pacific University, this possibility became a reality after a 6-foot-2 tennis player, Oscar Wight, was looking to come to the United States after a successful career in his hometown of Adelaide, South Australia.
So why Pacific, some might ask? Well, for the senior, who has been a force for the Boxers tennis team each year, he chose the small college in Forest Grove for one reason: the effort and communication that former head coach Brian Jackson put toward his recruitment.
"Pacific was a good choice for me, mainly because of the coach I was talking to at the time," Wight said of Jackson. "Out of all the coaches I emailed, he was definitely the best communicator out of all of them."
While Wight was unable to visit Pacific before deciding to attend — a flight from Adelaide to Portland is nearly 24 hours, a formidable amount of travel time for a college visit — he came to his decision based on how genuine Jackson was toward him. Also, with his interest in exercise science — a discipline that has historically been rigorous at Pacific — it was a good fit for him academically.
Jackson's commitment and genuine behavior toward Wight turned out to be well worth it.
Following the Australian's successful high school career — which included being selected to the South Australian state tennis team from 2011 to 2013 and a captaincy in 2012 and 2013 — he has put up scintillating numbers for the Boxers.
Despite a slow start his freshman season, which resulted in a 5-4 mark in singles and 10-8 record in doubles, Wight showed much better in his sophomore season, posting a 9-6 singles record and an impressive 14-6 mark in doubles, which included knocking off No. 14-ranked Zach Hewlin and Phillip Locklear of Whitman in the conference tournament with partner Chris Dalton. As a junior, he notched an overall record of 15-6 in doubles that included eight straight wins during the season. He also improved in singles, posting an overall 12-7 mark.
Now four years into the program at Pacific, Wight commented that while roughly the same player technically, it's mentally that he's drastically improved, learning how to "grind" through a match when maybe not physically at his best.
"Tennis-wise, in college, teaches you how to win a match when things are not going your way," the senior said. "That has been something I have really learned and enjoyed having the experience of."
So far this season, Wight currently holds a 7-7 record in singles, and 10-6 mark in doubles.
Entering the last few matches of the season, Wight is focusing more on himself, wanting to finish strong as his collegiate career winds to a close. He and fellow senior Sage Katayama have done their part contributing to the development of a roster consisting mostly of underclassmen. That, in addition to improving their own game, is important to Wight and Katayama — showing their younger teammates the way things roll around the Boxers tennis program.
"I am going to focus on what I got to do to," Wight said. "But I also think it's time now where I sit back and let that play out."
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