Every Monday morning, men’s tennis freshmen Oscar Cutting and Patrick Sydow struggle to wake up for their first class of the day at 8 a.m.
“I usually wake up first, and then I wake up Oscar,” Sydow said, laughing.
Sydow and Cutting — from Aruba and England, respectively — have shared a room in Centennial Place at the University of Memphis campus since August 2018 and have formed a strong bond with each other. After going to their classes in the morning, Cutting and Sydow practice in the afternoon at the Racquet Club of Memphis. They then head back to campus to attend other classes and mentoring.
Cutting is currently undeclared and takes general classes, although he tends to focus in sports management. At the moment, Cutting concentrates more on playing tennis and studying. After starting the dual-match season 7-0 in singles, Cutting stands now at 10-2.
On the other hand, Patrick Sydow majors in mathematical sciences and is happy with his choice.
“Math is the only subject I’ve been basically good at,” Sydow said. “I like numbers.”
Currently, Sydow has no concrete plans what he wants to do after college.
“I think this can give me a good lead, and I know that I also want to do a minor in business, possibly a double major,” Sydow said.
Both players said the only struggle so far is keeping up with homework when the tennis team is traveling to play matches.
“When you are all tired and coming back to the hotel you (feel) like, ‘No, I don’t want to do any work,’ but you know you have to work or else the coach is going to make you run next week,” Sydow said. “It is just a lot of discipline.”
Both players are currently happy with their decision to move to the United States.
“Coming to the U.S. was a decision that I made a long time ago because I always wanted to play college tennis,” Sydow said. “Starting here was really good. The team welcomed me pretty well, and I am happy with the decision I made, to come here.”
The Tigers have not been able to build on their great start, having recently lost six out of their last seven matches. Cutting and Sydow had to not only adapt to college tennis and going to a university, but also to living in a big American city like Memphis. Sydow left Aruba, a Caribbean island with a population a little over 100,000, when he moved to the U.S.
“There is the beach everywhere,” Sydow said. “In Aruba, it’s more like a vacation lifestyle, and here it is like I have to adjust (to) a real-life situation.”
Sydow has already travelled a lot to play tennis. He represented Aruba at the South American Youth Games in Santiago, Chile in 2017 and the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2018.
“Tennis gave me the chance to visit a lot of countries, meet a lot of different people and get to know different cultures,” Sydow said.
Sydow said these experiences helped him to adapt to a new place like Memphis faster and better. Sydow speaks four different languages: Dutch, Papiamento (both official languages of Aruba), Spanish and English.
“Usually I travel a lot in South and North America, so I always know the language and I have never had trouble communicating,” Sydow said.
Although Oscar Cutting grew up in an English-speaking country, he said he still wonders about some differences compared to his home country.
“The language is different, although we both speak English, like the words you use in different situations,” Cutting said. “It’s just a different culture and a different way of life out here. I feel I’m adapted quite well to it, so I’m really enjoying it out here in Memphis.”
Cutting credits coach Paul Goebel and associate coach Chris Doerr for his diligence in his studies.
“They do take a big interest in our classes to make sure we are on top of it,” Cutting said.
The Tigers entered the dual-match season very successfully with a record of 8-1. After this strong start, coach Paul Goebel said he is proud of both Cutting and Sydow.
“The freshmen have been really open minded, very hard-working, just a lot of fun to coach,” Goebel said.
Living in the same dorm, playing on the same team and even taking some of the same classes as another person is may seem like spending too much time with someone else, but Cutting and Sydow have used that time spent with each other to make a lasting friendship.
“(Oscar) is really like my brother now,” Sydow said. “We do basically everything together.”