Sam Philp was just named Southern Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week after Mercer’s wins against Georgia Southern and Alabama State Jan. 23 and 26.
The senior from Great Britain has been riding a wave of confidence ever since he became the first player in Mercer tennis history to be nationally ranked. Not only that, he is the only ranked player in the Southern Conference in both men’s and women’s.
“I think going into these matches knowing that I’m ranked gives me a lot of confidence and the perspective that I’m better than these players,” Philp said.
It may sound cocky, but it’s hard to argue when the numbers are on your side. In his first three years at Mercer, Philp accumulated a 40-32 singles record, after a 17-8 season his junior year.
“A few times I played some players who had been ranked throughout the year,” Philp said. “Unfortunately when I played them they had just gone out of the ranking. So I knew I definitely had the capability to perform at that level.”
His coach said he sees this kind of momentum should lend a helping hand in pushing the team forward in its spring season and beyond.
“This is another first for the program,” Coach Eric Hayes said in a Mercer Athletics press release. “Sam is well deserving of this recognition as he had a great fall. This is a good way for us to go into our team match season and hopefully experience more firsts for the program.”
In Mercer’s tournament against Georgia Southern, Philp came out on top of Eagles player Stefano Di Aloy after winning the final two sets of his match. He and his doubles partner, Olivier Stuart also succeeded in their bout against Di Aloy and Diego Finkelstein.
For Philp, his final season is all about bringing home the SoCon championship title, a goal that Philp said has been too long in the making.
“We want to get that SoCon title, get that ring that we’ve been pushing for, especially these last 3 to 4 years,” he said.
His new level of confidence is pushing Philps to dream of playing on the professionally circuit after graduating from Mercer. He said that he wants to take a year off from school to focus on tennis and seeing about using his connections in both Canada and Britain to get him wildcard bids in professional tournaments.
“There are a lot of tournaments in Canada over the Summer,” Philp said. “There are definitely a lot of opportunities for me it’s all about making the best of those opportunities.”
At the same time, Philp wants to look for internships over the summer in case he decides to pursue his masters degree in biomedical engineering.