Thursday's Conversation With San Diego State's Thorsten Bertsch
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome to Thursday’s Conversation. Each week, one Mountain West student-athlete will be featured by answering a series of questions.
Joining the conversation this week is San Diego State’s Thorsten Bertsch. The senior from Mannheim, Germany, plays No. 2 singles and doubles for the No. 35-ranked Aztecs. Bertsch, a three-time All-MW selection in both singles and doubles, has helped guide San Diego State to six wins over ranked opponents in 2015, including No. 21 South Carolina (4-0) and No. 22 California (4-2).
Bertsch and the Aztecs (1-1 MW, 12-5 overall), host Santa Clara at 1 p.m. PT on Saturday.
Question: After the first eight matches of the season, San Diego State was 4-4. Since then, the team has gone 8-1. What led to the turnaround?
Answer: We played well at home but lost some matches on the road that we felt we should’ve won. We definitely fell into a hole in the beginning of the season, but we got a couple of wins under our belt and started to build our confidence. We also had a little bit of luck, too.
Q: The Aztecs have earned six victories over ranked opponents this year, including two over top-25 foes in then-No. 21 South Carolina and then-No. 22 California. How do you explain the team’s success against top-level competition?
A: It’s our mindset. In the past, we always hoped we could win those matches, but now we have really started to believe that we can do it and before, that was missing. The South Carolina match was the one where the mentality changed and from then on, we’ve had the belief that we can win.
Q: The 2015 Mountain West Men’s Tennis Championship are just under a month away. You and the Aztecs will get a preview of the courts you’ll be playing on when you head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to face the No. 44 Lobos on April 12. Do you think that regular-season match will help you prepare for the Conference tournament?
A: I think it is great preparation for us to see how (New Mexico) plays on their courts and how we can perform there. We’ve lost to New Mexico three years in a row in the semifinals of the Mountain West, so it really all comes down to them for us. If we can get win there it’d be great because they are ranked pretty high, too.
Q: Can you walk me through your decision to leave home and come to America to play collegiate tennis?
A: As I was going through school in Germany, I knew that I wanted to keep playing tennis and keep improving my game. If I were to stay home, I wouldn’t have been able to both continue with my studies and play tennis. In America, I knew that I could get an education and still play tennis. Also, the weather’s not too good in Germany; you’re always playing indoors and I’m not a fan of indoor tennis. So, I really wanted to play outdoor tennis and with the weather, I had my mind made up that I was going to go to school either in Florida or California. I picked Cali and I’m glad I did.
Q: Did you visit any other schools besides San Diego State?
A: No. San Diego State was my first and last visit (laughs). The beach, the weather and the people in San Diego made the decision very easy for me.
Q: How long did it take you to adjust to your new surroundings and what was the hardest part of the transition?
A: I really felt comfortable right away when I moved to America, but still it took me that first semester to really get comfortable with my surroundings, finding my way around campus, around town, things like that. The hardest part for sure was the language … that took a while to get down.
Q: You’re graduating in May. What are you getting your degree in?
A: I’ll be getting my degree in economics.
Q: What will you do after your time at SDSU is over?
A: I am moving back to Germany, but after that, I’m really open to anything that comes up. I love tennis and I’ll keep playing if any opportunities for me to do so are out there.
Q: When you’re not playing tennis, what do you like to do?
A: Hang out with friends, eat good food and play FIFA on PlayStation.
Do you have a student-athlete you’d like to see featured in an upcoming Thursday's Conversation? Contact Dan Johnson at djohnson@TheMW.com