After the departure of Noah Rubin last season, many people were unsure how the Wake Forest tennis team would perform in the 2016 season. Thanks in large part to the emergence of Skander Mansouri, the Demon Deacons are currently ranked number five in the country — the highest ranking in school history.
Mansouri, who excelled in doubles play as a freshman, is now playing at the top position in both singles and doubles play. He has already defeated some of the best players in the country this season and will look to continue his dominanting performances as the season continues.
He has proven to be one of the best players in the ACC, already winning the player of the week award, and Wake Forest will likely only go as far as he takes them.
I understand that you are from Tunisia and attended high school in France. What attracted you to the United States and Wake Forest?
I was looking for a way to play tennis at a high level and keep my education going at the same time — a thing you cannot do in France or in Tunisia — that’s why I decided to come to the United States. Choosing the school was another thing, I was one of the top juniors and got contacted by a lot of college coaches. Tony Bresky, Wake Forest mens’ tennis head coach, came to visit me in Tunisia. We got along pretty well as we had the same goals and it was a choice I am happy to have made.
Student athletes face demanding schedules, but as an All-ACC Academic team selection as well as an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete, you have clearly handled these demands very successfully. What do you think are key elements to balancing academics and athletics?
I would say organization and time management — but I am far to be the best one at either of those on the team. On the other hand, I am very competitive and have a high work ethic. I do not stop until the work I have to do is done. That applys to tennis, as well, trying to get that extra edge in a very competitive team is very hard.
After coming off a strong 23-16 singles record last year, what are your personal goals for this season?
I would say to do a lot better. I was personally not very happy with how I did last year and I have worked hard to improve. I think this showed a little in the fall with a 15-3 record, and I hope it will continue to get better as the season progresses.
The team was recently ranked No. 5 in a Division 1 Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Ranking, the highest in Wake Forest men’s tennis history. In your opinion, what will be important to maintaining this success?
I think to maintain this success we should keep aiming for that first place, ACC tittle and NCAA title. It is our goal as a team, and we are not afraid to say so. We should keep working hard, just the way we always do, and I am sure it will pay off.
You also posted a team high 26 wins in doubles last year, playing primarily with fellow Demon Deacon Christian Seraphim. What are some of the ways you foster team chemistry to ensure success on the court?
Chris and I have played really well last year. After starting the season with a streak of five losses, we bounced back with a better steak of 13 wins and got ranked as high as No. 5 in the country.
I think our game styles match pretty well, and we also do get along really well which is a necessity for a good doubles team.
In addition to your recent ACC Player of the Week nomination, you also boast a number of impressive accomplishments. What has been the most meaningful award or title you have won so far?
It is tough to recall the most meaningful moments because I had a lot of very positive emotional ones on the team and also on my own. I think beating Oklahoma at the beginning of the year was a big one.
What activities do you enjoy off the court?
I love dancing and hanging out with my friends.