Roditi projects freshman Chappell as program cornerstone

A freshman student began the spring 2012 tennis season at the No. 1 seed for the men’s tennis team.

Before coming to TCU, Nick Chappell, a pre-major from Indianapolis, Ind., played international tennis tournaments.

The international tournaments have no regard for traditional school schedules, Amy, Chappell’s mother, said. After his sophomore year of high school, Chappell decided to place tennis above academics, Amy said.

Chappell enrolled in Indiana University High School, an online school program, and completed his education while traveling.

During this time, Chappell played in Futures, small professional-level tournaments and all four junior Grand Slams, according to

These tournaments familiarized Chappell with the pressure and intensity of college tennis. At TCU, Chappell played matches against athletes with skills comparable to top 500 professional players, he said.

“But you can never really simulate the team aspect,” Chappell said. “In a tournament you’re playing all for yourself, and here you’re playing for your teammates and your school.”

Chappell attributes his interest in tennis, in part, to those around him. His mother is a tennis player and enthusiast. Tennis was a natural part of the Chappell family’s culture, Amy said.

Paul Chappell, a senior psychology major, is Chappell’s older brother and a member of the TCU men’s tennis team. Paul is one reason Chappell considered playing for TCU.

Hector Clavijo, a tennis instructor, was Chappell’s personal coach for about eight years.

“I have to adapt the sport to the kid, not the kid to the sport,” Clavijo said.

Clavijo capitalized on Chappell’s left-handed style and developed his athletic abilities.

David Roditi, TCU men’s tennis head coach, said Chappell is off to a great start.

Chappell has his strengths and weaknesses, but he is projected to be the cornerstone of the program, Roditi said.

In the next few years, Chappell hoped the team would reach the national championships.