Schnaitter follows in the footsteps of fellow German Oliver Frank, but his play sets him apart from his predecessor
Azusa Pacific men’s tennis team continues to contend year after year at a national level. Sophomore Jakob Schnaitter is one of the many international tennis players that have led the program to prominence in recent years.
Originally from Wasserburg, Germany, Schnaitter spent seven years at a tennis academy in Oberhaching before deciding to take his talents to APU. Schnaitter learned the sport at an early age from his family.
“My love for tennis was always natural, my parents used to take me along with them as a kid because they played but it was never forced,” Schnaitter said. “I just gained a love for the sport myself.”
Schnaitter said his community was primarily filled with soccer fans of the local team, Bayern Munich. However, Schnaitter and his family preferred tennis. This love for this sport was a major catalyst in allowing him to travel the world and attend an academy to grow his talent.
At age 14, making the move to Oberhaching was a huge transition and a vital part to Schnaitter’s young tennis career. The academy ended up being a great experience for him to develop his skill and to get a feel of what it took to be a professional tennis player. He played matches in several countries, including France, Italy and Spain. During his time at the academy, Schnaitter competed with APU alumni Oliver Frank.
“Playing with Oli was great, he was always in the older division but we got to gain a relationship and he taught me a lot,” Schnaitter said.
This bond led Schnaiter to become a Cougar. Their collegiate career overlapped for one season last year, before Frank graduated
“As I was trying to become pro, I always had to do school on the side,” Schnaitter said.
“In my academic path, it took me a bit longer to fully complete high school, so once I graduated I was ineligible for Division 1 because of my age but Oliver being here at APU … showed me the opportunity.”
The two were able to communicate often and help mediate between the language barriers and NCAA rules. Having an old friend as well as the support from APU was a big factor for Schnaitter choosing the Cougars over another program.
Schnaitter is the number one singles player for the men’s team. He is able to outlast most opponents due to his technical ability and endurance.
Like many, Schnaitter grew up a huge Roger Federer fan. He also loved Australian great Lleyton Hewitt. Schnaitter modeled his playing style and mindset on the court after Hewitt.
“Hewitt was a fighter,” Schnaitter said. “He didn’t have the biggest weapons but he was always trying 110% to win and I always loved that so he was my idol and a reason why I started to play.”
Schnaitter is not the most vocal player on the squad, but he is a true competitor and is humble enough to let his play on the court do the talking. He prefers to do rather than tell, just sticking to business.
Jesse Haas, Schnaitter’s teammate and roommate, recalled his first experience of meeting the talented German.
“I had heard of Jakob from the coaches when I was joining the team. The first time I saw him at practice it was obvious by how he played that he had talent,” Haas said. “Of course Jakob is a great player but his personality and leadership style really means a lot to the guys, and off the court we are all able to joke and have some fun.”
The two are double partners this year and have had great success on the court. Both players credited the team’s cohesiveness for their success.
Schnaitter still has two more seasons to play for the Cougars. He has tremendously high ceiling. While he dreams of going pro, he is focused on other things for now. He wants to enjoy his time in Azusa and hopes the team can finally win a national championship. The team is currently 18-1, and with Schnaitter at the helm, there is plenty of Cougars’ tennis history to be written.