Carnegie Mellon men’s tennis doubles team of first-years James Muliawan and Nikola Ljuboja won the Wilson/ITA Atlantic South Regional Tournament last Monday. The pair was honored by the University Athletic Association (UAA) and jointly named UAA athletes of the week. Muliawan has lost only one match all season, when he was defeated in the ITA singles semifinals. Wednesday, Muliawan heads to Florida to compete in NCAA competition, but first he met with The Tartan to discuss his success on the court.

Tartan: How did you get into tennis, and when did you start playing?
Muliawan: I learned to play because my dad always played, and I started playing when I was about 12. Playing clubs and USTA tournaments, and then I played on my high school team.

T: Did you always plan on playing tennis in college? What made you want to play at Carnegie Mellon?
M: I always knew I wanted to play in college because it’s something I love. I was really excited to come play here because I love having the opportunity to help build a team. The team’s doing better than it ever has before, we have a lot of really strong underclassmen, and I am proud to be a part of it.

T: How supportive has your family been throughout your career?
M: They have been tremendously supportive. They have really helped out, getting me to tournaments and paying for USTA tournaments. Every weekend, they would take me to the airport, I would get on a plane and go play in a tournament, and depending on if I played well or not, they might be back at the airport to pick me up the next morning.

T: So, do you have any pre-match rituals, any lucky charms, or superstitions before you get out on the court?
M: I am a little paranoid, I always do the same stretches, I have to do them in the same order every time, and I always listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers before a match.

T: We have all watched tennis on TV or seen an actual match. What do you really miss out on when you are just watching the sport?
M: It is really hard to understand how hard it is to play for that long. We have matches that will last three or four hours, and when we are at a tournament we will play all day long. It gets really exhausting.

T: When you are playing for that long, what do you focus on so you stay in the game?
M: I mainly just try to focus on myself, what I am doing, things I can do or should do, how I can try and control the game. I cannot think about my opponent, because really I do not have control over how they play, I just have to worry about how I am playing.

T: The fall tennis season is winding down, but you start up again in the spring; any particular goals in mind for the spring season?
M: A big goal would definitely be to win UAAs as a team. We would have to take out Emory, but it would be tremendous. That is something I would really like for us to try and do.