Azusa Pacific’s men’s tennis team has a young and ambitious star: Jan Meyer. At 20 years old, the sophomore business administration major holds the No. 1 singles and doubles spots on the team, takes at least 18 units per semester and is set to graduate this May — two years early.
“I want to use my time as efficiently as possible. That’s my basic motivation,” said Meyer, who originally used a combination of high school transfer credits, CLEP tests and summer classes to earn his diploma two years ahead of schedule. He plans to dive straight into APU’s MBA program after graduation.
Last year, Meyer powered through his freshman year with an undefeated record in the regular season at No. 3 singles and nabbed the final point needed to boost the team to its NCCAA championship victory. His only technical loss all year was when he was forced to default a match due to an ankle injury.
Now, seven matches into this year’s season, Jan continues to maintain his perfect winning record.
“In the regular season, he hasn’t lost in two years, which is a huge accomplishment. I don’t think we’ve ever had that,” head coach Mark Bohren said.
Team captain and senior communication studies major Freddy Wilkins said Meyer’s defining quality is his determination to win.
“If there’s one thing he hates most, that’s losing. It’s his competitiveness, to never give up, to fight for every [match] and to get the point for his team,” Wilkins said. “He’s a role model in how you want to play in college sports and how you want to be part of a team.”
Meyer, who is from Germany, began playing tennis at 6 and started competing in tournaments at 8. He played with a regional team throughout elementary school, and in high school he specifically transferred to a different school for its strong sports program.
After graduating high school, Meyer sought to attend college in the U.S. so he could continue playing tennis.
“If you go to college in Germany, there’s no way you can continue playing competitively,” Meyer said. “It’s a different system. We don’t have college sports over there.”
He reached out to an agency to get connected with U.S. tennis coaches, and the representative he spoke to happened to be an APU tennis alum. Meyer ultimately chose Azusa Pacific over other options like the NCAA Division I programs of Northwestern University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
As a freshman, he played No. 1 doubles with then-team captain and senior Jochem Hoefnagels. Meyer described Hoefnagels as “the ideal captain” who helped him improve in doubles and led his teammates through an undefeated season.
“That made my freshman year almost perfect. We had no trouble at all,” Meyer said. “It was an honor to play with him. He’s one of the best players this university has seen so far.”
Meyer finished last season with a 22-5 doubles record.
“It’s definitely good when you start a season with a leading doubles partner,” Meyer said. “In the first match I was super nervous, and having Jochem at my side was definitely an advantage for me.”
Now Meyer is once again at No. 1 doubles, but this time he’s the experienced one leading his partner, freshman Pascal Engels.
“I currently have a tough time [playing] first doubles. Everything is new, and I’m still a freshman,” Engels said. “He helps me a lot.”
With only one senior and one junior, the team is filled with younger players. As a young leader, Meyer said he tries to help his newer teammates adjust to playing college tennis.
“I try to help all the new guys to see how important it is to play as a team and not as an individual,” he said. “That’s definitely one of the most significant factors of playing college tennis. Tennis players are individual characters.”
Bohren said he hopes to see Meyer lead his teammates to a national championship next year, once the team becomes an NCAA member.
“He’s going to be a great leader when he decides he wants that position,” Bohren said.
Hoefnagels, Meyer’s former doubles partner and current assistant coach, said Meyer “stepped it up right away” as a freshman, and exudes confidence on the court now that he is in his second season.
“He’s great at the net. … He has great reflexes. And he’s a great server,” Hoefnagels said. “But most importantly, he really steps up in the moments that matter for us as a team.”