When we let ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY’s star tennis player, Matt Westmoreland ’10, know Max Murata ‘23 was following in his footsteps to play tennis in college, in true IPA ‘power of human kindness’ fashion, Westmoreland offered to help in any way he could. So naturally, we asked him to give Murata advice as he prepares to take his tennis game to the next level.
During Westmoreland and Murata’s meetup on campus, they immediately clicked. Murata shared that he was heading to the University of Puget Sound and wasted no time asking, “How was your experience playing tennis in college?”
Westmoreland shared that his experience was a great time and that through college sports he immediately had friends he could trust. “You guys will be doing everything together. Instantly, you’re already connected. That really helped me in college. It’s exciting, I’m really excited for you,” said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland was a top player in Hawaiʻi when he signed with Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (Division I) in January 2010. He was so excited when he joined the team, but quickly learned he had to earn a spot to play at the collegiate level even though he was one of the best back home. “Out of the 11 guys, I was number 10, wasn’t even close to the lineup, and I lost to the number 6 guy in my fall season,” Westmoreland shared. “I thought, ‘Oh shoot,’ this is a whole new ball game,” he continued.
Every chance Westmoreland had, he trained to get better and better. He worked hard at home in Hawaiʻi during winter break and when he returned to Texas A&M, he worked his way up from number 10 to number 6, then 5, and eventually earned the number 2 spot on the team. Talk about grit and commitment to excellence!
Westmoreland encouraged Murata to work hard and then work even harder. “Don’t be afraid to put in a lot of extra work. Extra fitness, extra conditioning, extra tennis, so you can start going up the ranks,” shared Westmoreland. “My first year was getting used to a different level. You’re gonna be playing against 21-year-olds. Big, strong men. Right now, you’re used to playing against 16 to 18-year-olds and the ball doesn’t come very fast or heavy. That’s a fun adjustment and you’ll quickly improve,” he said.
As Murata soaked in all the wisdom that Westmoreland passed on, Murata’s mom, Tricia, was nearby snapping photos. While sharing a few last words of advice and laughter, Westmoreland said, “Start strong your first year. Don’t party too much. That’s what I recommend.”
We are sure mom appreciated that piece of advice, and that Murata is ready to rally and level up his game!