Though he’s humble off the court, once freshman Vinny Castellini picks up his racket, his modesty fades away — becoming a player that his teammates and coach recognize as fiercely effective. Just nine days ago, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference acknowledged his performance by awarding him rookie of the week.
“I didn’t even know they gave awards,” said the freshman visual and media arts major. “I saw that I won on Emerson Sports Network’s website and just said, ‘Oh hey, there’s my face all over the Internet.”
Castellini has helped lead the Lions to a perfect 5-0 overall record, sweeping all but two teams this season, and outscoring its opponents 42 to 3.
But men’s tennis head coach Gavin Barton said he was not surprised that Castellini won the honor.
“He’s been a terrific asset to our team,” Barton said. “He came into the season with a really great attitude.”
After each tennis match, one athlete is given a “man of the match award” by Emerson. Castellini received that award after his first game with the team, according to Barton.
“It got pretty cold out there during the set, but he got down to business and took care of things like he was a veteran,” Barton said of the season’s first match on March 13. “I think that really shows his focus and maturity level out there.”
Castellini, who has been playing tennis since he was 10 years old, ranked first on his high school’s team in Grand Junction, Colorado, he said, and is currently ranked fifth in singles on Emerson’s team. He also participates in double matches, often alongside teammate Zach Connolly.
Connolly said he enjoys partnering with Castellini, and that he is excited for his teammate’s future.
“He’s a very intense player,” said the junior writing, literature, and publishing major. “Off the court he’s a quiet, polite and friendly person, but on the court, he is an animal — every time he steps up he wants someone’s blood. I don’t think we’ll drop a single match all year.”
Last season, the men’s tennis team was 6-6 overall, with a 4-1 conference record. Connolly attributes this season’s improvement to a more stable roster.
Mitchell Lance, a senior tennis player for the Lions and a contemporary writing and production major at Berklee College of Music, said that the Lions rotation is well-balanced, and has the potential to be very successful throughout the year.
“We have a very strong roster from top to bottom,” Lance said. “We’ve been able to play with a high level of consistency, and we’ve been playing with a lot of confidence.”
Several University of Massachusetts Boston, and Berklee students play for various Emerson athletic teams through the ProArts Consortium.
The team currently ranks first in the GNAC standings, and has seven remaining matches with three of them GNAC opponents.
Emerson’s next match is scheduled for April 6 at Anna Maria College.