Nearly a month has passed since Joey Swaysland played his last collegiate tennis match in Eugene. It was an important one – against Washington on senior day. Swaysland and fellow senior Daniel Sardu were celebrated. The Ducks dominated in a 4-1 win over their rivals. Head coach Nils Schyllander later described the day as something “they are going to carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
As high as the moment was for Swaysland, an equally low one followed just five days later.
In the Pac-12 championships, the Ducks lost a heartbreaker to Cal, 4-3. A win likely would’ve propelled the Ducks into the NCAA tournament. Instead, the selection committee elected to leave the Ducks out of the field. Oregon’s season and Swaysland’s collegiate career came to an abrupt end.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately,” said Swaysland. “We wished it went a little bit longer. We had a couple chances in key matches, but I think there’s a lot of potential in the years to come.”
Swaysland’s decision to transfer from the University of Texas to Oregon after his sophomore season was huge for a young Ducks team in need of upperclassmen experience.
The transfer made sense for Swaysland. He was buried deep in the rotation on a top-10 Texas team, and in the middle of Swaysland’s sophomore season, he broke his jaw after being punched by a Texas Longhorns football player at an Austin bar. Swaysland needed a change of scenery and saw a program on the rise in Oregon.
“I wanted to be part of something special and help set the foundation for the future,” Swaysland said.
Although the future is bright for Oregon men’s tennis, Swaysland’s loss will be felt, and not just in terms of wins and losses.
From losing a couple of heartbreaking matches to Kevin Farin’s dismissal, this year’s Oregon team experienced its fair share of challenges. Swaysland’s senior leadership was key to getting past them, according to Sardu.
“This team felt a lot of adversity,” Sardu said. “He’s the guy who everyone looks up to and talks to. He helped me a lot with leading this team.”
The season may be over, but Swaysland still feels like he’s a part of the team, at least for now. He continues to work out with the team and attend practices, albeit in a different role.
Swaysland will graduate from Oregon in December. He has his sights set on a higher educational goal: law school.
“I plan on going to law school in Australia,” Swaysland said. “I’ve always been really interested in that field. It’s the next step in my life and it’s what I’m going to do.”
Swaysland won’t know until October which school he’ll be attending, but he said he’s most interested in the University of Sydney and his home state school, the University of New South Wales. He wants to become a corporate lawyer in Australia someday.
His competitive tennis career is likely over, but Swaysland is ready to begin the next chapter of his life.
Follow Will Denner on Twitter @Will_Denner