Sebastian Vile never could have imagined that it would come to this.
The “marriage” that he had with the University of Minnesota tennis team, it was pretty close to perfect.
And now? Well, now it’s over, the Gophers men’s tennis program done in by budget cuts. Minnesota eliminated the program at the close of this season. Vile, a 2018 Rochester Mayo graduate and former Class AA state champion, played his final match in a Gophers uniform on April 30.
“It’s really a shame that it had to happen like this,” Vile said. “But I’ll have to find a way to move on, to use these experiences I’ve had and learn from them. I’ve met so many incredible people here and had a blast. At the end of the day, I’m just appreciative that I could be a Gopher and play for my home state for as long as I did. Because it allowed me to live a dream that I’d had since I was a child, to play college tennis and to do it at Minnesota.”
Vile is moving on, and like the majority of his Gophers teammates, he’s going to continue to play tennis. His next act will be at the University of Wisconsin.
That choice does two things for him. It allows him to stay relatively close to his Rochester home and keeps him in the Big Ten Conference, a league he reveres.
It also lands Vile — who says he’d been playing the best tennis of his life recently — on a team that was close to on par with Minnesota this past season.
“The biggest thing for me is that it keeps me playing in the Big Ten Conference,” said Vile, who played No. 5 singles and No. 1 doubles for Minnesota this year as a junior. “I know I am extremely biased, but the Big Ten is one of the best Power Five leagues you can play in. There is just so much history in the Big Ten and prestige with its academics.
"When I got the offer to play at Wisconsin, it was hard to turn down. I really liked their coaching staff and they were understanding and empathetic about our situation (at Minnesota). And I think they understood that I have a lot more to give in college tennis.”
Vile will get two more seasons to do that giving. That’s despite him having already spent three seasons competing at Minnesota. The NCAA is granting all athletes who competed collegiately this year an extra season of eligibility as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the havoc it wreaked on college athletes this school year.
Vile’s intention is to take advantage of that even though he’s on track to graduate next spring with a degree in psychology. He may slow that academic pace down now, though, with two seasons in front of him.
Also in consideration for Vile before choosing Wisconsin were Division I schools Tulane, New Mexico, Virginia Tech and Division III college Gustavus Adolphus.
When Vile made his decision official last week that he’d be transferring to Wisconsin, he got a bit of a visual jolt. The Wisconsin athletic department sent out a press release with the announcement, one which pictured Vile. The photo was from a match that Vile had played at Minnesota, but thanks to some Photoshop editing, it now showed Vile wearing a Badgers uniform.
That visual was odd, no matter how long Vile stared at it.
“That looked a little bit strange, me wearing a ‘W,’” he said. “It’s going to take some getting used to.”