The Dane Train: How @TexasMTN Player Soren Hess-Olesen Became The Best In College Tennis
Jeff McMillan, Tennis Atlantic
When the new ITA singles rankings are released on Tuesday, do not get caught up in the numbers. Do not allow them to fool you into believing something other than Soren Hess-Olesen being the best player in college tennis right now. The Texas Longhorn Senior from Aarhus, Denmark is bar none the best player in the land in this snapshot of the moment.
It would be very hard to argue otherwise based on recent results. In the past 5 months, starting in the fall tournaments, Hess-Olesen has only lost twice: to Cameron Norrie of TCU in a 3 setter and to Sebastian Stifelmeyer of Louisville, who was having an out of body experience all week long in the Tulsa All-American tournament. Since the dual match season has started, Soren has dropped just one set, let alone an entire match.
Here are some of his recent big wins:
def #6 Brayden Schnur (UNC) 6-4 6-1
def #13 Winston Lin (Columbia) 6-2 6-1
def #81 Leonard Stakhovsky (Penn State) 7-5 6-2
def #53 Chris Diaz (Ohio State) 6-4 6-2
def #25 Leandro Toledo (Minnesota) 6-1 7-5
As the results show, he is taking on some of the very best in college tennis and simply obliterating them.
However, this should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to college tennis the past couple seasons. Last year Soren Hess-Olesen amassed a 19-3 record at #1 for Texas and advanced to the ITA national semifinals in the individual tournament before eventually falling to champion Marcos Giron. Last year is when it started to click for Soren. His 19-3 record was a vast improvement from his 12-9 record at #1 in his sophomore season. This year, he is a fully formed player and taking on all comers in impressive fashion.
When one watches Soren Hess-Olesen play, they are not blown away by a single great shot, by any great power nor by any blinding speed or footwork. But what is evident when watching a Hess-Olesen match is that he is in control. He dictates and he decides what happens in the match. He does this with a quiet ability to absorb his opponent’s best shots and redirect them all over the court, often for winners. If you are reading this and imaging a “solid” player then you are wrong. Solid suggests that there is nothing special about the particular player it is being used to describe, but there is something special about Soren Hess-Olesen. His levelheadedness and match strategy far exceeds most players in the college game. You can tell that in every match he is determining the best way to beat his opponent. His ability to disguise his shots and plans are also above the typical college level, as can be seen every time his opponent is exasperated when yet another winner goes past them off of a perfectly executed re-direct.
The season is still long and Soren will have plenty of big matches upcoming aginst other great college players like Julian Lenz of Baylor, Andrew Harris/Axel Alvarez of Oklahoma and Noah Rubin of Wake Forest. These will be tremendously high quality affairs and if Soren Hess-Olesen is what I believe that he is, the best player in the college game, then he will overcome the big challenges ahead.