April 25, 2008
John Nespoli began his career at Lehigh looking for a great mix of both athletics and academics. Not only did he find a great balance between the two, but has excelled in both the classroom and on the tennis court.
Nespoli, a senior finance major from Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, has been a key member of the men's tennis team since entering Lehigh. He has played both singles and doubles, where he as ascended to the No. 1 spot in Lehigh's lineup in his senior year.
"Lehigh was the perfect mix of academics and athletics," says Nespoli. "It was a Division I program that played against premiere competition. There aren't too many schools across the country that compete at this level athletically and have the academic reputation of Lehigh."
Head coach Dave Shook has the highest regard for Nespoli and says it has been a pleasure to coach him for the past four seasons.
"John is a wonderful and delightful young man," says Shook. "He has always been there for his teammates and also for myself when I needed him. `Nespo' as he is called is well liked and has a reputation as an outstanding player, but also as an outstanding sportsman on the court."
Not only is John regarded highly by his teammates and coaches, his professors also praise his abilities in the classroom.
"John deserves so much credit for balancing a rigorous major with tennis, a Division I sport," said John's finance professor Ken Sinclair. "I know that both his major and tennis are priorities for him. Throughout my course he never missed a class, was always prepared and genuinely seemed interested in the course material. No doubt he has mastered time-management skills. He certainly knows how to multi-task. As a result of his ability and character, he will excel in whatever career he enters."
Nespoli's hard work has paid off and he has a job in New York working in Ernst and Young's Financial Services Advisory practice. John will no doubt have success in the working world and his camaraderie with his teammates will absolutely pay off after graduation.
Coach Shook feels that Nespoli is a great leader both on and off the court. "
When John speaks, everyone on the team listens because they respect him both as a student and a player. He has never missed a practice and has never been last in any practice activity," says Shook.
Being a motivated student athlete has lead to many successes for John. Despite all of his victories, John's best moment in his tennis career is not a great match or winning a championship.
"The greatest moment, and something I'll never forget, is when my grandmother came to Lehigh and got to watch me play for the first time," recalls Nespoli. My parents always send her pictures and keep her updated about my matches but she has never had the chance to see it for herself. I loved seeing her reactions after an intense point, or a great or terrible shot I just hit. When I got off the court I went in for a hug and she was quick to tell me, `You didn't bend your knees enough!'".
His family and friends have been extremely supportive of him throughout everything. His parents and twin sister have been fans of John's and have attended many of his matches since he was in high school.
"I think my father has missed maybe two matches in four years at Lehigh," says Nespoli. "He even showed up without telling me to our match in Florida my freshman year."
Nespoli is coming to the end of his career at Lehigh and can chalk up the last four years as a success. He has developed great relationships with his teammates, coaches, and his brothers in Theta Xi fraternity. He will wrap up a great four years of tennis this weekend when Lehigh faces Bucknell in the Patriot League Tournament.
Nespoli is ready to move on but will miss being a part of the Lehigh tennis team.
"For the most part, I just really enjoyed the competition and the rivalries," he says. "It's what drives most athletes; getting out there and trying to be the best at something that you really enjoy. I'll miss it, but I, my teammates, and coaches made a lot of great memories that I will carry with me forever."
Lehigh earned the No. 6 seed in the 2008 Patriot League tournament and Nespoli and the rest of the Mountain Hawks will face No. 3 seed Bucknell in the opening round of the tournament, Friday at 12:30 p.m. at Colgate's Abrahamson Courts in Hamilton, N.Y. The Mountain Hawks lost to Bucknell 6-1 back on April 10. The winner will face the winner of No. 2 Army and No. 7 Holy Cross in Saturday's semifinals.
Story written by Megan Hess, Lehigh Sports Media Relations.