By Kathleen Matthew, UCSB Athletics Communications
The sky is the limit when it comes to the success and future aspirations of UCSB men's tennis player Mathieu Forget. Climbing his way up to No.1 player on the team his senior year exemplifies nothing less than a competitive drive and persistent motivation to improve.
Surprisingly, Forget's outstanding talent in tennis is overshadowed only by his true passion for the performing arts.
"The main reason why I came here (UCSB) was not to play tennis, but I knew through tennis I could come here," recalled Forget. "My main focus was to study abroad and learn about dancing and acting."
Forget, originally from Switzerland, did not grow up playing tennis, as do most collegiate tennis players. Tennis was just a casual hobby of Forget's until he realized that he could study abroad and earn a possible scholarship to play at a university. The "American dream" sparked his enthusiasm to pursue tennis as a potential channel to the United States and ultimately UCSB.
"I was a little apprehensive about bringing him on the team because he just really hadn't played much," said UCSB tennis coach Marty Davis. "Frankly, he wasn't a very good player."
Forget took a year off after graduating high school to dedicate all of his time to tennis, putting in three to four hours per day competing and training with his father, French professional tennis player Guy Forget.
Once at UCSB, Forget took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. Despite taking 17 to 21 units a quarter his first two years and excelling in tennis, he sought constant involvement in school plays, dance, costume design, and short films. Forget's life was full of activity. His dreams of a career in acting push him towards auditions and taking part in as many productions as possible. As he fully engages himself in a theater major, Forget is currently rehearsing for the musical "It's Only Human if it Dies" every night from 7 to 10 pm.
"He's always on," says coach Davis. "I don't know if he sleeps that much, he's just on all the time."
"I hate not being busy because I get bored," Forget said.
His overwhelming energy and motivation are obvious to everyone. Davis describes him as a "constant energy source." Whether it's on the court, on the stage, or just with his buddies, Forget is always performing.
"He's pretty entertaining," Davis said. "It's always fun having him around."
Now in his senior year, Forget has already conquered the tennis court. He has earned multiple Big West Athlete of the Week awards while acting as team captain, playing at the No. 1 singles position in the lineup and leading the Gauchos to No. 46 in the national rankings. He has won a number of significant matches in singles and doubles thus far and has high hopes of UCSB making it the NCAA to close out his collegiate career.
"I never thought I would be that interested in tennis, but by practicing and getting better and better I wanted to play, and play better," recalled Forget. "My freshman year I didn't start in the beginning, and ended up being No. 6 for the team. I went back to France for the summer and played in more tournaments. By getting better and better it motivated me to want to play more. Now I play No. 1 for the school."
Forget's continued progress and accomplishments are quite remarkable considering tennis trails his first passion – the performing arts.
"He's way exceeded our expectations," Davis said. "He's the most improved player I've ever had."
"I've never really worked hard for something," admits Forget. "Tennis was the first thing that made me understand that if you work hard, put the time in, and are surrounded by great people that are here to support you, it makes you want to do good not only for yourself but for other people around you."
His positive outlook on life and appreciation for the opportunity he has been given is reflected in his personality. Forget is often found dancing in front of large crowds. When traveling with the team and with time to kill, leave it to Forget to throw on some music and start break dancing in the middle of the airport with numerous people watching.
According to co-captain Max Glenn, "He's always there for you, he's a great teammate. Matt is always making sure everyone's having a good time and keeps everyone positive and happy."
With the combination of his athleticism, coordination and competitive spirit in tennis and his imagination and desire to perform in theater, Forget will continue to amaze and inspire those around him.
"Life is so beautiful, everyone should be happy," he says.