Family tradition proceeds Whitewater tennis player


Tyler Nelson raises his racket to hit a forehand.

Chris Pittner, Men’s Sports Journalist


Tradition means a lot to many different people, especially in UW-Whitewater athletics where the mantra is “Powered By Tradition.” For tennis player Tyler Nelson, upholding his family’s tennis domination was destiny. The freshman has a rich family history in the sport of tennis, with his grandpa and uncle both competing at higher levels. 

His grandpa competed for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his uncle at Division II St. Cloud State. Nelson took upon his family tradition from a young age, focusing on tennis through middle school and up to high school in his hometown of Waunakee, Wisconsin. 

In addition to his relatives, Nelson also looked up to tennis great Roger Federer, as he admired his play style. Additionally, he took inspiration from other tennis greats such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. 

Nelson had immense success while playing for the Waunakee High school tennis team, as he qualified for the WIAA State Tournament during his freshman, junior and senior years, and the only reason he didn’t his sophomore year was because the tournament was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nelson shined his senior year, as he placed third in the state. 

Despite the immense amount of success Nelson experienced in high school, he did not plan on playing tennis in college, until Whitewater extended him an offer and he committed to play. 

So far this season, Nelson has proven that he was worth the offer and then some. This year, he has competed in both singles and doubles, and has racked up plenty of wins and has turned heads with some of his victories. 

Nelson’s first match of the spring season was played as No. 2 singles, and he pulled out a win against Wabash College in straight sets 6-1, 7-5. Nelson continued his hot streak, winning multiple matches, and playing in the No. 2 doubles pair with teammate Cole Lindwall. Nelson has played at various spots in the singles lineup, ranging from the two to four slots depending on the meet, and racking up wins regardless of his opponent or rank. 

In a match versus heavy favorite, ranked Pomona College, the team’s score was tied at 4 wins apiece, meaning that Nelson needed to clinch the winner for the Warhawks in his No. 4 singles match. Nelson delivered for the Warhawks, winning the third set 6-3, and earning the team a huge upset against a team they had never beaten in the history of  the program. He said that this was the signature moment of his tennis career thus far, and created a memory he would never forget.

“I guess the main thing is to stay focused on your match, it’s really easy,”’ Nelson said. “Just trying to stay focused on winning your match over the other ones.” 

Something else that has helped him find success in college tennis is his teammates, and how the squad is essentially a family. They often hang out outside of practice, such as at team dinners to bond as more than a team. 

“All the captains have been great with making sure that everyone gets to know the team really well, trying to get the chemistry going, sort of showing us the ropes of college tennis, as it is a lot different than high school, with singles and doubles,” Nelson said. 

For Nelson and the rest of the Warhawks, the goal is always to bring both conference and national championships home for the Warhawks.

Upholding traditions is important for Nelson, and he can more than fulfill the tradition set for him not only in his family but also for the Warhawk program, and he looks to continue to cement his legacy at Whitewater for the next three years.