Bulldogs in the Spotlight: Will Huntington, Men’s Tennis

Will Huntington

Will Huntington

Bulldogs in the Spotlight, Vol. 2
by David Silversmith

Bulldogs in the Spotlight is a new mini-series bringing Ferris State fans intense, intimate, and intriguing interviews to help them get to know the Ferris State Student-Athletes. In this volume, we will help you get to know Ferris State Men’s Tennis player Will Huntington.

Will Huntington is a senior from Oxford, Mississippi, studying business marketing and professional tennis management. Will transferred in from Meridian Community College after his sophomore season. He played only one match his junior season, winning both a singles match and a doubles match. This upcoming 2014 spring season will be his last as a Bulldog. I met up with Will this past week at the Ferris State Racquet and Fitness Center to bring you a new volume of Bulldogs in the Spotlight.

David:
Will, thank you for meeting with me today.

Will:
Thanks for giving me this opportunity. I’ve already mentioned it to some of my family members. They are excited to see it.

David:
That’s fantastic. Well, let’s begin! I want to get started with how you began playing tennis?

Will:
This is actually kind of a funny story. Both of my parents played tennis and at four or five years old, I began to take lessons with my older sister. But I quit playing after I turned seven years old to focus on baseball. I had this huge dream that I was going to play [NCAA Division 1] baseball and I focused on that sport until I was sixteen.

David:
Wow, why aren’t you still playing baseball?

Will:
Going into the summer before my junior year of high school, my mom and I played tennis everyday. She was a single parent, but she always had time for tennis. I remember at the beginning of the summer, we would play and she would smoke me in sets. It was six-zero, six-zero and I couldn’t win. I was getting pounded. That’s when the fire ignited. I slowly regained my tennis game back and soon enough, I was the one winning sets six-zero. I don’t know what happened but I got this tennis fever in that summer and I decided that this was what I wanted to play.

David:
That’s incredible. I’m guessing you played a year or two at the high school level as well?

Will:
Yeah. I tried out for our high school team my junior year and our team was really good. When I went to the try-out, they already had won five straight team tennis titles in the state of Mississippi. I was able to get on the team and the success continued to come after this point. We won two more state titles and I began playing in southern states tournaments for recruiting. My mom is the reason for all of this.

David:
She seemed to know what is best for her child, if I don’t say so myself.

Will:
I know, right? She kept telling me, ‘Keep trying tennis. It will come back to you’. And she’s in her late forties and early fifties and she was beating me to death in the sport. But she got me where I am at right now.

David:
Speaking of where you are right now, how did you get to Ferris State University?

Will:
Well, [Ferris State Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach] Chad was my coach before he came to Ferris for a couple weeks while I was preparing for junior college tennis in Tampa, Florida in 2010. I played two years at Meridian Community College and was recruited by Belhaven University, an NAIA school. Once I learned that I was coming in with a recruiting class of twenty-three international players, I told them that I didn’t want to play there anymore. All of my other options had used their scholarships and I really didn’t have much left.

David:
That is until Chad came along again?

Will:
Yes, Chad was the coach at Ferris and he told me he wanted me to come play. I remember asking him, ‘Where is Ferris?’ and once I found out it was in northern Michigan, I said, ‘No way.’ My mom and my sister both said, ‘uh, no you’re not going to Michigan.’ But we sat down and talked about it. I told my mom and sister, ‘I trust [Chad]. He can get something going for me.’ My sister wasn’t thrilled because I was suppose to play across the street from where she went to school. But I made the decision anyway.

David:
That’s interesting that your family didn’t want you to go so far away from home.

Will:
Yeah, they didn’t like the idea at first. But, on my birthday, August 22nd, we drove sixteen hours to Big Rapids, to move into the Oakwood Apartments with four people I didn’t know.

David:
[laughing] Oakwood? That seems to be a great first impression.

Will:
Especially with three random guys. One is now one of my great friends on our team, Aaron Dial. Then I got close with all of our team.

David:
That’s great. Now, it seems like your ready to begin tennis!

Will:
I was. Until I had injured my foot in an off-court accident. Someone had crashed into my foot and I had to wear a boot for sixteen weeks. It was the worst feeling in the world. I felt like I had let everyone down. Coach Berryhill, my mom, my sister, my team, the university, I disappointed all of them.

David:
That feeling can be tough. Injury is always a mental disturbance as well as a physical one.

Will:
Yeah, it is. That’s when I dedicated myself. I gained thirty pounds of muscle in preparation for the new season. This past Christmas break, I played in a big time tournament in Memphis, Tennessee. I played in a tournament that had a berth to the Memphis Men’s ATP 250 [professional tennis tournament]. I didn’t win the tournament, but I got two quality wins during the tournament play.

Will with his mother and sister in Memphis.

Will with his mother and sister in Memphis.

David:
Well, that is a heck of a way to rebound and announce your comeback. Let’s get to know Will through¬† some simpler items, such as favorites. What is your favorite color?

Will:
I like green.

David:
Movie?

Will:
I love Will Ferrell, so I’d go with Step Brothers.

David:
That’s always a good choice. Car?

Will:
Chevrolet Silverado.

David:
Vacation?

Will:
Tops’l Tennis Resort in San Destin, Florida.

David:
A tennis vacation, very nice. Favorite team, aside from the Bulldogs?

Will:
Well, I live in Oxford. So, I’d go with Ole Miss. My mom was a cheerleader in the 70’s. She’ll like that I told you.

David:
I’ll make sure to give a shout out. What about food?

Will:
I love food. I eat a lot of pasta, but it’s not my favorite. I just need the carbs. You know. I do love biscuits and gravy though.

David:
Alrighty, what about differences between Oxford and Big Rapids?

Will:
[laughing] It’s like night and day. The accents are different. The southerners talk slower. You guys talk quickly and proper. Food is cooked and prepared differently. The dress is different. We dress preppy everyday. You guys [laughing] dress like Yankees.

David:
Wait a minute. What does that mean?

Will:
It’s just not stylish. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to dress nicely, you can. But a lot of people choose not to here. I don’t blame y’all either sometimes with the weather up here.

[He makes a point. I’m wearing tennis shoes, dark skinny jeans, a cross country sweatshirt and a leather jacket. I hold no fashion or style at all during this conversation. Plus, if you have seen a Michigan/Ferris college-aged person’s twitter feed, it probably has the variation of a ‘Sweatpants today’ tweet.]

David:
Okay. Okay. What else?

Will:
Social life is different. The parties are different. North and the South are polar opposites. It’s not like a bad difference. But like a change you have to get use to.

David:
I can kind of see where you are going now.

Will:
And the personalities of people, north and south are different groups.

David:
[laughing] Watch what you say!

Will:
It’s true. And manners. There is a reason why I address everyone with, ‘yes mam’ or ‘yes sir’. Everyone is raised like that in the south. ¬†I know it sounds like I’m getting after everyone up here but in all honesty, I really do enjoy northern Michigan. I worked this summer in Harbor Springs and its amazing there. Being up north has some perks you can’t find in the south.

David:
Alrighty, Will. Let’s talk about Ferris State tennis. Where do you think the Men will end up this year?

Will:
We want to build off the momentum from last year when we lost in the GLIAC title match. Northwood is our main competitor and we look forward to facing them again. So far this season, we are 2-3. It’s been a real learning experience for all of our guys. This past weekend, our team really took a step forward with bonding and competing with each other. We’re beginning to play as brothers, and as men. We want to be the better players and the better role models.

Will Huntington1

“We want to be the better players, and the better role models.”

David:
That’s a great goal. Better players, better role models. So does that mean you’re calling out Northwood?

Will:
We want to beat Northwood. I personally want to see the one through three doubles win. But we need every win we can from them.

David:
Will, where do you think you will be after the season ends?

Will:
Well, I have one semester left. But I’m thinking that I may go back home then to Florida. I want to coach tennis professionals, especially with their fitness levels. My dream is to own a facility for training elite juniors and tennis professionals. But after I graduate, I’m gone.

David:
Will, thank you for the experience on behalf of the athletic department and all of the fans. Do you want to leave us with a couple words?

Will:
Thank you, and yeah, I have a couple things. I’ve never been to a hockey game before I came here. And when you see our doubles team, remember to ‘fear the beards‘. We’re going to match everything for each doubles match from headbands to nasty ginger beards, so be prepared.

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One thought on “Bulldogs in the Spotlight: Will Huntington, Men’s Tennis

  1. Love it! I have definitely become a HUGE Ferris State fan! I probably spend more time on the athletics website than your average student. I love reading about ALL the sports, men and women. Thank you for the insights. Oh……and Hotty Toddy, Will!!
    Mama Cindy

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