Written By: Ashley deGruyter for NM State Athletic Dept.
Kicking off your senior year as an athlete always brings mixed emotions, but New Mexico State senior tennis player Matej Stakne is ready for it. As one of four returning players, and the only senior, the native of Croatia has a big season ahead of him.
Starting tennis at the age of seven was not Stakne's first sport of choice. "I actually wanted to play soccer at first, but they told me 'oh you are too little'. So that is when I decided that I would try tennis as a sport," Stakne said.
Tennis first started as just any other game for Stakne. After playing for a while and getting into tournaments Stakne realized he was a solid tennis player. It was at that point that tennis turned into more than just a game and he developed an actual love for the sport.
"In Croatia you cannot go to college and play tennis at the same time. So my senior year I saw the United States as an opportunity to put the two together," Stakne said. There were a few schools scouting Stakne, but ultimately he chose New Mexico State. The weather, tennis facilities, and coaches were all factors that helped make his decision.
The decision of coming to New Mexico State was one of the best education decisions he could have made. Stakne will be graduating in May with a bachelors in International Business. While tennis is not in his future career plans, education is. After graduation Stakne will pursue a Masters in business.
Stakne has dedicated three rewarding years to his teammates, coaches, and Aggie athletics thus far. "Matej has been a very solid producer for us. I have seen him gradually get better and improve on what he already had as a freshman, which was consistency," said Coach Vargas. "He is one of those guys that you always know what you are going to get out of him. He is one that you know is always going to give you one hundred percent."
This season Stakne has many great matches to look forward to. The Aggie Invitational will start his season off where he will compete against schools such as Arizona State, Northern Arizona, and University of New Mexico.
Later in the season the Aggies compete against Baylor, whom Stakne is excited about because they are top ten in the nation. Competing against high ranked schools does not get the best of Stakne. "I think it is a positive thing to be excited. You are more pumped up than you are nervous," Stakne said.