The fall 2018 semester is off to a great start for Matthew Kolkhorst. He is about to launch his NYIT men’s tennis career, but before he hits the court at NYIT, he made another impressive debut: as a ball person at the U.S. Open.
Kolkhorst tried out and made the cut for the Grand Slam event, which wrapped up at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sunday, September 9, with Novak Djokovic defeating Juan Martín del Potro in the men’s final.
Kolkhorst, a nursing student who comes to NYIT from Nassau Community College, got to work Roger Federer’s fourth-round loss to underdog John Millman, the 55th-ranked player in the world.
“I was in the photographer pit, just getting the balls whenever they [would] go in there. Since I’m a rookie, I can’t go on the court. Only the veterans are able to do that,” said Kolkhorst who was in shock during the entire match. “My jaw was dropping. You could even see me in the pit with my jaw dropping. I was in shock the whole time. The fact that Federer lost—we’re supposed to be impartial—but I was not too pleased about that.”
Originally from Sea Cliff, N.Y., the 5-foot-11 Kolkhorst estimated about 500 people tried out to serve as a ball person and about half were cut.
“You have to be agile,” he said. “They’re going to hit the ball into the net. They’re going to try to see how quick you are, [they’re going to look at] your posture, and basically [see] if you can follow directions.”
While attending North Shore High School, Kolkhorst earned the No. 1 ranking on Long Island and was working to get his Eastern ranking higher. Then, after redshirting as a freshman at Nassau Community College, he went undefeated as a sophomore while playing second singles and first doubles and captaining the team.
Kolkhost will begin the nursing program in the spring semester, allowing him three years of play with the Bears. (The program takes two and a half years to complete.)
It may only be the second of week of school, but Kolkhorst is settling in nicely in his new home. “I’m really finding it welcoming,” he said about NYIT.
As for whether his first-year experience at the U.S. Open will prompt him to return, Kolkhorst added, “Oh definitely. I’m definitely going to do it again next U.S. Open.”
By Adam Rubin