Oftentimes, the transition to college life can be a difficult one for freshmen everywhere, athletes included. There are large jumps from high school athletics to the college sports scene including facing bigger, stronger and smarter competition. However, freshman Joseph Wayand, one of the newest members of the NC State men's tennis team, welcomes the challenge.

Wayand had a standout high school tennis career at Cardinal Gibbons, a mere 10 minutes away from NC State’s campus. From a young age, he aspired to play college tennis in the area, so NC State felt like a natural fit for Wayand.

“I always wanted to play in state, that's why I am grateful for the opportunity to play at NC State,” Wayand said. “It means a lot; it's nice to be close to home.”

Named USA Today’s high school tennis player of the year from North Carolina, Wayand was one of the best high school tennis players in the country, let alone the state. But since the start of his intercollegiate tennis career, Wayand, like most other freshman college athletes, has transitioned from dominating in high school to facing bigger and better opponents on a regular basis. Instead of being at the top of the field of competition, Wayand and these other freshman athletes must restart and climb the new ranks of collegiate athletics.

He, however, has made a point to embrace this challenge with open arms, rather than letting it discourage him. He sees this adversity as an opportunity to improve his game. After recently competing at the ITA Carolina regionals, he quickly took note of the fierce competition he faced in the tournament.

“I realize that the level of everybody in college is really high,” Wayand said. “I've got to improve to be able to compete and beat these guys. I thought it was a pretty good experience competing against guys that are probably three or four years older than me, to see if I can beat them.”

This determination shown by Wayand is just part of the mindset he has developed towards facing these new opponents during his matches in college. One day, he hopes to become as dominant as the players at the current peak of college tennis.

“It's definitely a challenge, it's a lot more physical,” Wayand said. “Even at my first match, you feel a lot more tired quicker, because the guys are just more in shape, are stronger and hit the ball harder. In a way your mindset changes, now you're not really the top guy, you gotta work and build to become that guy, and it's a challenge but it's kind of fun too because you get to restart and try to work your way up again.”

Having already established a determined underdog mentality, Wayand has been able to key in on this positive mindset heading into the season and even extend it to the rest of his team, already showing early flashes of leadership in just his first few months on campus.

“I think day in and day out attitude is pretty important, I've been trying to work really hard and keep everybody accountable,” Wayand said. “It's good to have good and positive energy everyday.”

Rather than looking at adversity as a challenge, Wayand uses it as an opportunity to improve not only his game but his mentality as well. This is done in order to not only assist him during tennis matches, but throughout life.

“You can learn goal-setting, dedication, resilience, basically every match can be like what the real world will be like because there are ups and downs, so I think it actually teaches you a lot about how to handle outside of tennis situations,” Wayand said.

Establishing this unique perspective will no doubt prove beneficial as the NC State men’s tennis team transitions into the start of their season. Already competing in tournaments such as the ITA Carolina Regionals and the Wake Forest Fall Invitational provide experience and opportunity for all players including Wayand to test their mettle against other college teams.

With the start of the college tennis season in early 2022, Wayand and the rest of the Pack Tennis team will have an opportunity to improve and compete for a championship. But for Wayand, the start of the season also represents the start of his journey to climb the ranks of college tennis and again become one of the best in his current sphere of competition.