Caleb Ray just completed his final year on the Lawrence men’s tennis team. As the only senior and captain of the tennis team, he has contributed greatly to the men’s team as both a competitor and a leader. Playing No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles this season, Ray had one of the best records on the team and was a source of intimidation for his opponents.
Ray started playing tennis when he was just six years old. He remembers visiting his grandparent’s house over the summer and learning the sport under the guidance of his grandfather, who was a tennis player himself. Caleb dabbled in tennis throughout his youth, taking lessons and playing on junior teams in Texas. He began playing seriously with one of his best friends in high school. He joined his high school’s varsity team and entered himself into a number of extremely competitive individual tournaments in which he competed against some of the top competitors in the state.
Caleb heard about Lawrence University through Kevin Girard, the coach for both the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Lawrence. He had never heard of Lawrence and was not necessarily planning on playing tennis in college. He had actually applied to a number of larger schools and was planning on attending UC Berkeley, but realized that a smaller school would be a better fit.
Ray’s decision to attend Lawrence gave him the opportunity to play college tennis. When asked why he wanted to play tennis at the college level, Ray replied, “Tennis is just a lot of fun. I really like competition and having an opponent to defeat…but it’s better having an opponent as part of a team. “
What will you miss the most?
“Honestly, I will miss the competition. I will miss playing conference matches against teams we would give anything to beat and who would give anything to beat us. It will be very difficult to find a similar competitive environment elsewhere.”
What was your favorite memory on the court?
“There are two. The first was beating St. Norbert’s during conference and winning both of my matches as a senior. The other was beating Carroll’s No. 2 doubles team during conference play. They were undefeated until Cooper and I beat them in my last home match.”
What was your favorite memory off the court?
“Spring break freshman year. That was the first time that I got a sense of being on a team and the first time that I got a sense of family from the LU tennis team. The people on the tennis team made the experience for me because we really have a genuine tennis family.”
As the only senior and captain this year, Ray will be missed by his teammates. Junior Jason Dunn noted, “He never gives up in matches. He is a scrapper who will exploit your weakness if you let your guard down for a second. He is also extremely vocal and has a drive to win.” Ray’s doubles partner junior Cooper Smith added, “He was a leader on the court and a friend off the court. We will all miss him next year.”
Although the tennis team and Lawrence community will be sad to see him go, Caleb Ray has a bright future ahead of him. He will be joining the Peace Corps this September where he will be stationed in francophone sub-Saharan Africa. We all wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing what he will accomplish in the years to come!