Mason Caldwell Represents Guam in The Davis Cup

Mason Caldwell, a third-year tennis player for Colgate, recently returned from an international tournament held in Bahrain, an island nation situated on the Persian Gulf. Representing his home country of Guam, Caldwell played fierce competitors from around the world, including several top tennis players from countries in the Middle East, as well as other islands in the Pacific. 

Of course, Caldwell’s journey to international competition began much earlier than the tournament; he originally began playing tennis when he was in elementary school and has worked on improving his game since then.

“I started playing when I was eight years old — I took it more seriously when I was around fourteen or fifteen. I took a bunch of three-month summer trips to Fiji to train,” Caldwell said.

Early in his Colgate career, Caldwell rarely played an individual competition, but as he improved over time, he began to see more and more of the court. The transition into Division I athletics is challenging for any player, and being one of the first Colgate tennis players from Guam only amplifies that. But Caldwell always focused on supporting his teammates and improving as a player. Even in his first year, he often led chants and contributed as a teammate.

“His sophomore year he worked all the way up to playing several matches. He’s an energy guy … just a really great high-energy team guy,” coach Bobby Pennington said on his progress 

Heading into his junior year, Caldwell began prepping for the tournament, noting that he did not change up his training too much as to increase his time on the court overall: “Nothing was too different than normal practice. I just had to increase the amount of time I was playing tennis.” Coach Pennington worked with Caldwell privately to improve his game before he went abroad, and he noted how focused his playing was on the court. Caldwell is, after all, a pre-med student, and balancing intense training with labs and assignments is especially difficult.

Caldwell also dealt with the additional pressure of playing for his country rather than just his school. As he noted, the stakes always feel higher when playing an international tournament as a player representing an entire nation.

“Representing a school feels different than representing your country. Obviously no disrespect to Colgate, but you definitely feel more of a weight when you represent your country,” Caldwell said.

The trip to Bahrain involved several connecting flights through D.C. and London and days worth of traveling to get to Bahrain and back. The conditions on the island were difficult —  in his first match, Caldwell played in 98-degree weather that felt like 118 degrees. He had to keep drinking fluids and taking ibuprofen to prevent serious cramping, and he played so much tennis that his wrist was hurting by the end of the tournament. Through it all though, he played well and had a good experience. He got to represent his school, his country and himself while playing some of the better competition from around the world. As Pennington puts it, “It’s really big for the program too, to show our depth and our culture. I’m really proud of that too, and he deserved it. He’s just a great kid and a real voice of the team.” Hopefully, Caldwell’s experience makes him that much more confident when team play begins next semester and Colgate looks to compete for the Patriot League Title.