Traralgon export looks toward senior college year

Export: Traralgon's Ben Grumley is set to begin his senior year at William Woods University. Photograph supplied




TRARALGON’S Ben Grumley has made waves in the US while playing college tennis for the William Woods University Owls.

Heading into his senior year, Grumley reflects on his college journey so far, and delves into what he might get up to in his senior year and beyond.

“My tennis experience (so far) has been great, I couldn’t have asked for a better coach and teammates to play with and for every week,” Grumley said.

“The family that we, as a team, have created has been something that you don’t see at many other colleges.”

Grumley just completed his junior year and is now preparing to enter his senior year.

Last season he finished with an 18-6 record in singles play, and a 15-9 record in doubles play, giving him a mention in the first team singles and doubles through the Unaffiliated Conference Grouping.

Grumley is in the process of completing a Bachelor’s Degree, which would suit him to a tee given his sporting history.

“The degree that I’m completing is a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, with a concentration in Human Performance, as well as a minor in Sports Management,” he said.

“As for my studies, they have also been great.

“We have the luxury of having small classes which means that you really get to know your professors and they are able to help you one-on-one.

“I’m really enjoying the studies, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to finish my degree and get into the field.”

Following the completion of the 2022/23 season, Grumley was awarded with a College Sports Communicators (CSC) Academic All-America honour – which recognises college athletes for their sporting contribution, as well as their academic studies.

He became one of the first William Woods University men’s tennis players to earn a CSC honour, coming after his third-straight Honourable Mention to the NAIA All-America list.

“It felt really cool, to be honest I didn’t really know what it was, but I was glad to be recognised for my tennis and my studies as a whole,” Grumley said.

“I’m hoping it will motivate some of the boys next year to also work hard so that we can have more nominations.”

Grumley’s focus has not waivered, always ready to be the best he can, and preparations have already begun for the 2023/24 season.

“The thing that I’m most looking forward to about my senior year is just getting on the court and competing to win with my teammates beside me,” he said.

“We have a lot of expectations for next season, so I’m just eager to get that started.”

He is spending extra time in his offseason to prepare, all while keeping his foot on the academic accelerator by taking part in an internship.

“So, this offseason I chose to stay in the US, I’m completing an internship at a Human Performance centre that houses and trains several NFL and MLB athletes,” Grumley said.

“I’m also training and playing as much as I can to get ready for next semester.

“I played a tournament a couple weeks back with some teammates and my coach which was a bit of fun, but also a chance to get some strong match play against other college players.

“I’ll be back on campus in about four weeks, so right now I am just fine-tuning some conditioning before we get back to preseason.”

Grumley has had his share of memorable moments throughout his college experience, but nailed it down to one that stands out above the rest.

“I would say that my most memorable moment so far would be finishing the National Rankings as the Number 4 program in the country,” he said.

“This was equal to the highest-ever for our program, but we also beat several top 10 to 15 schools throughout the season.

“That final ranking was something we aimed for all year, so finishing with that was memorable for everyone involved.”

Now that Grumley is only 12-or-so months away from completing his senior year, he begins to cast his eyes out to what could be on the horizon in the coming years.

“I don’t have anything set in stone at the moment, I think I would like to complete a master’s degree just to open some more doors for myself into the future,” he said.

“College tennis has also become such a big part of my life over the last three years, so I wouldn’t be opposed to continuing to be involved after I am done playing.”

“I can’t say that I really know where my tennis can take me, I love being involved in tennis and being involved in a program that drives me to be the best player I can,” Grumley said.

“I know there’s a lot of opportunities all around the world, either trying to get ATP points or playing professional club tennis in Europe.

“Tennis is an ever-expanding sport, so it will be interesting to see what opportunities are available this time next year.”

Aside from college sports and his future, Grumley also noted that he wants to spend more time with his family after the long hiatus over the last few years.

“I’d like to spend some time at home after I’m done, to spend some time with my family,” he added.

At the moment, time with family and close friends is limited, yet he remains lucky to have a good group with him abroad.

“I’m able to get home once or twice a year, which is great,” Grumley said.

“I’m also lucky to have a tight-knit group of friends and girlfriend over here that make it easier.

“However, I miss home every day, my whole family is back home as well as some of my closest mates.

“I’m super close with my family as they’ve all supported me for so long, so it is hard to see them only through a screen, however I know that they support what I’m doing 100 per cent and I’ll continue to do what I can as I’m just trying to make them proud.”

Grumley gives a special thanks to his mum, Susie – who is the manager and secretary of the Traralgon Tennis Association, who helped him get to the position he is in today.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without my mum and her continued support,” Grumley added.