By Griffin Fabits
It is as if Nathan Ponwith and the Solar Devils had been all the time meant to seek out one another, like their paths had been certain to intertwine at some juncture.
They needed to, proper?
Ponwith, a Scottsdale native, grew up attending Arizona State ladies’s tennis matches on the Whiteman Tennis Middle. He educated and performed there as a child, too. And when Ponwith was a excessive schooler at Glendale’s Arizona Connections Academy, some 20 minutes down the street from the Solar Devils’ facility, he shortly rose to turn out to be the nation’s high rating participant within the 2016 signing class.
However regardless of the proximity, the adoration for the college, how a lot he ached to remain house, Ponwith and the Solar Devils could not have been additional aside as a result of, properly, the Solar Devils did not have a tennis program.
They had been stripped of their crew in 2008 resulting from price range restrictions.
So Ponwith, then a world top-50 world beginner participant, dedicated to the College of Georgia, the place he would writer a terrific freshman marketing campaign for the Bulldogs. He claimed the 2017 SEC Freshman of the Yr Award and was named to the convention’s First-Crew. He went 22-15 and helped Georgia to a share of the SEC Championship title.
It was an immaculate starting to a school profession at one of many nation’s high applications. However, oddly sufficient, it nonetheless wasn’t the situation Ponwith dreamed of as a child.
“Arizona State was one thing I used to be in search of as a child rising up, however the crew wasn’t there, so I did not suppose it was a risk after I initially went to varsity,” he stated.
However quickly after Ponwith arrived at Georgia, Arizona State introduced it will reinstate its tennis program due to a $1 million donation from Ray Anderson, the Vice President for Athletics.
Tennis was again in Tempe, and Ponwith felt he needed to return house, as properly.
“I did not suppose it was a risk after I initially went to varsity,” he stated. “However to listen to that, there was a whole lot of hope, a whole lot of pleasure round me going to be a Solar Satan. It was one thing I all the time wished to do, to simply rep your property colours.”
In returning to Arizona, Ponwith joined a program he’d all the time grown up idolizing. He’d play proper in his personal yard and in entrance of the household and buddies who helped his tennis profession blossom the way in which it had.
And with the addition of Ponwith, the Solar Devils had been getting the form of younger, electrical participant that may speed up the rising pains of a younger program trying to find its id. It was the form of shot within the arm head coach Matt Hill and his workers wanted as a way to raise ASU again to nationwide prominence.
“I feel he introduced greater than only a degree of tennis to the crew,” Hill stated. “He introduced a deep-routed affinity for the college that form of grew in him as he was a teenager rising up on this metropolis.
“When you’ve a crew filled with gamers everywhere in the world, that sort of satisfaction and affinity for the ASU model takes time. I would definitely say that Nathan helped speed up that course of dramatically.”
Ponwith first appeared with the Solar Devils within the spring of 2019 and made a quick impression on his new program, displaying the form of satisfaction and keenness for the college that resonated throughout your entire roster.
It introduced a spark to this system, and it could not have felt extra pure for the hometown child.
“It was superior,” he stated. “The Maroon and Gold felt regular for me. Rising up, I all the time cheered on the Devils. It simply felt nice.”
Ponwith spent the subsequent three seasons in Tempe and was an instrumental piece in placing the Solar Devils again on the map. The final two seasons, the Solar Devils had been a nationally-ranked top-25 program. They completed contained in the top-20 this 12 months and appeared within the Pac-12 Championship last.
The person accolades had been simply as fruitful. Ponwith certified for this spring’s NCAA Singles Match, was named to the First-Crew All Convention, earned the ITA’s Southwest Area Most Improved Senior award, and wrapped up the 12 months by changing into ASU’s male recipient of the Pac-12’s Tom Hansen Medal award which celebrates “the best mixture of efficiency and achievement in scholarship, athletics, and management.”
Congratulations to Nathan Ponwith and Olivia Mehaffey on being named this 12 months’s Tom Hansen Medal recipients for ASU! ??
— Arizona State Solar Devils (@TheSunDevils) June 23, 2021
Congratulations to Nathan Ponwith on incomes First Crew All-Convention honors. ??
Launch ??: https://t.co/wPbu3Vst42 pic.twitter.com/7iNdU521Ns
— Solar Satan M. Tennis (@SunDevilMTennis) May 20, 2021
As a junior, Ponwith and Dominik Kellovsky grew to become the college’s highest-ranked doubles pair in 25 years once they reached eighth within the ITA rankings, and the pair earned a bid within the NCAA Doubles Championship. Ponwith defeated seven ranked opponents this season and received the crew’s deciding level within the Pac-12 Match to beat UCLA, marking the primary time the Solar Devils have toppled the Bruins for the reason that program’s revival.
These are the explanations Ponwith got here again house. To win, certain, however to take action for his hometown crew, to jumpstart a program and instill a successful tradition in it. For that, it was a storybook Solar Satan tenure.
It is commencement day from @ASU … so my final for @sportscronkite:@SunDevilMTennis senior Nathan Ponwith (@NathanPonwith) grew up in Scottsdale and selected to switch house from Georgia in 2018 to complete his school tennis profession, fulfilling a lifelong dream within the course of. pic.twitter.com/4SQJMAGNAL
— Mason Kern (@MasonKernMedia) May 3, 2021
“I really feel grateful for the prospect to have performed at ASU and hopefully influence everybody who watched or who was capable of see it occur and expertise it with me,” he stated. “I hope that down the street it is going to affect the subsequent generations to return and wish to play for ASU.”
The subsequent generations that Ponwith hopes to encourage have already taken discover. Hill spoke of a recruit who has spent six years coaching within the larger Phoenix space.
The recruit is conversant in Tempe, with the Solar Devils, and naturally, with Nathan Ponwith, the hometown child who proved you possibly can stick round house and thrive on the collegiate degree.
“He seemed as much as Nate,” Hill stated. “He watched him play Wimbledon Juniors. Not solely does this assist us with placing a fence round our state and conserving the highest expertise carrying the pitchfork, but it surely’s nice for the game usually within the Phoenix space for the youthful guys to maintain pushing the envelope for junior tennis in Phoenix.”
The turnaround of Solar Satan tennis in only a few quick years falls a lot on the shoulders of Hill, his workers and the roster he is constructed. However, as Hill stated, a very good chunk of that credit score must be given to Ponwith, who grew to become the face of this system virtually instinctively by flipping the Solar Devils again into contenders.
5?? years in the past right this moment, Matt Hill was employed to deliver our males’s tennis program again to prominence. ??
3?? Pac-12 Match Appearances
3?? NCAA Championship Appearances
• Gamers in NCAA Singles/Doubles Championships
4??9?? Crew victories
1??4?? Victories over ranked opponents. ?? pic.twitter.com/pu1y9tD24v
— Solar Satan M. Tennis (@SunDevilMTennis) June 29, 2021
“I really feel like I am leaving this system in nice palms,” Ponwith stated. “There’s a whole lot of children who’re hungry and proficient and the coaches are working onerous day-after-day to proceed to get higher.”
“He is one of the crucial spectacular younger males I have been round in my 17 years,” Hill stated. “I feel he has grown as a participant and an individual and it has been tremendous spectacular to look at and it has been tremendous humbling to be part of. We’re tremendous, tremendous excited to see what he does subsequent. I feel Nate has some actually, actually huge issues forward.”
ASU Males’s Tennis: Nathan Ponwith is getting ready for a professional profession after selecting to play on the collegiate degree simply 4 years in the past.
Carson Breber has the story.https://t.co/HzT07ywm8F pic.twitter.com/erHtlZ6v5Q
— Cronkite Sports activities (@CronkiteSports) February 25, 2020