There is the old adage that “records are meant to be broken.” Thomas Laurent hopes for that to be the case when he aims for history on Sunday. Laurent is currently in a three-way tie for first place in Oregon history with 15 consecutive wins.
With a win on Sunday in No. 21 Oregon’s match at UC Santa Barbara, Laurent will stand alone.
“He’s playing like one of the best players in college tennis right now,” said head coach Nils Schyllander.
Laurent is a perfect 11-0 to start the spring season. His last loss – during the fall tournament season – came in the ITA Northwest Regional Championship.
“Obviously we want to give the best to the school and to the team,” said Laurent. “I’m really happy to bring this [level of play] to the team.”
The 6-foot-3 sophomore is tied with former Duck Robin Cambier and teammate Simon Stevens, both of whom have won 15 consecutive matches.
However, Laurent’s streak is something special. Unlike Cambier and Stevens, Laurent is doing it from the No. 1 spot, so he’s facing top competition every match.
“I start every match really focused,” said Laurent. “I know if I don’t focus and try my best, I’m not going to win.”
Stevens, who joined Cambier with 15 straight in 2015, hopes that Laurent can break the record.
“We joke about it,” said Stevens. “I’ll be happy if he wins more matches.”
Laurent came to Oregon after a strong prep career in his hometown of Montpellier, France. He cracked the top 10 of France’s U18 rankings.
Laurent was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a freshman. With his two wins in the NCAA Tournament, Laurent became the only player in Oregon history to have multiple wins in the tournament. Still, he knows he hasn’t met his potential.
“I knew I could be better,” said Laurent of his first year with the Ducks. “That was my goal, to play at this level.”
Laurent competed mainly in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in singles for the Ducks last season, but now there’s no doubt who play in the No. 1 slot.
“He rises to the occasion when he plays the top players,” said Schyllander.
After starting the season ranked No. 105, Laurent has risen to No. 36. His most recent win came against Drake’s Vinny Gillaspie, whom Laurent lost to last season.
“I was mostly focused on beating [Gillaspie],” said Laurent after winning his fifteenth straight. “That’s what mattered for me.”
Laurent’s play isn’t limited to singles action. Along with Cormac Clissold, the pair is 29-3 all-time in doubles matches together, tied for seventh in Oregon history. Laurent is a combined 35-4 in singles and doubles matches dating back to the fall.
“We know its tough to play [in the No. 1 spot],” said Stevens. “What he does is great.”
Senior Jayson Amos, along with the rest of his teammates, is impressed with the level of growth and maturity that Laurent has shown since arriving to Oregon last spring.
“He’s improved so much from when I saw him last year,” said Amos. “He’s the real deal out there.”
Real deal indeed. An likely soon to be the Oregon career record-holder.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich
Read about Laurent’s tie and more in this week’s Quick Hits.