BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 7:20 AM
Canadian Tom Mroziewicz first picked up a tennis racket when he was 5 years old, in Bandung, Indonesia. The sophomore on the Iowa tennis team learned how to hit the ball from his father, Wojtek, a semipro player while growing up in Poland.
At 11, Mroziewicz began to play competitively while living in Toronto. At that time, he dropped his dad and began working with a real coach.
Mroziewicz saw more of the world by his 8th birthday than many will see in a lifetime. Born in Canada, his family moved to Warsaw, Poland, for two years, where his father, an aeronautical engineer, worked with airline companies.
There, he said his first words — in Polish — picking up English later on.
He, along with mother Alicja and two siblings, followed his father’s job all the way to Bandung and back to Toronto.
That was where Mroziewicz attended Richview Collegiate High School and began to excel in his chosen craft.
He finished fourth at the 2006 and 2008 under-16 national tournaments, thrusting his name into the spotlight when colleges came calling.
Unlike many young top-ranked athletes, Mroziewicz didn’t allow himself to take tennis too seriously. Perhaps because of his opportunity to see so much at such a young age, the Hawkeye tennis player “has never let tennis control his life.”
Instead he describes the sport as simply “being there.” That outlook allowed the business major to focus more on school and not allow tennis to impede on the other things he has going on.
Iowa head coach Steve Houghton remembers first hearing about Mroziewicz.
“I went up to Canada and saw him play in a tournament and was really impressed with what he could do,” Houghton said. “He looked like a really good college player.”
Mroziewicz showed up to campus in the fall of 2008 and felt at home right away. Used to the impersonal nature of Toronto, he felt welcome immediately in the Hawkeye State because of the differences from his hometown.
The fall portion of the season didn’t go quite as planned. Both Mroziewicz and his coaches expected the youngster to be in the lineup right away, but with older players doing well, he was kept out until the Purdue Invitational, in which he beat Stephen Shao of Marquette in his first collegiate match.
With the rough fall season behind him, Mroziewicz turned his sights to cracking the lineup during the spring portion of the season. He did precisely that, entering the roster right in the middle of Big Ten season when he beat Stephen Vogl of Indiana.
Mroziewicz stayed in the lineup at the No. 6 position for the rest of the season and finished the 2008-09 campaign with a 3-2 singles conference record.
Being part of a very international team, Mroziewicz fits in perfectly, taking advantage of his opportunity to communicate with others from all across the world, which will have to suffice for travel — at least for now.
“It’s cool to see different cultures, a Russian guy, a Dutch guy. We all became friends,” Mroziewicz said. “It’s a way to learn about the world indirectly.”