March 24, 2014
By Matt Bontorin, MSU Athletic Communications student assistant
For senior Will Davis, being a Spartan is more than simply competing on the court. Davis stresses balance and exemplifies this through his dedication to his coaches and teammates. Throughout his five years as a Spartan, Davis has been called a "great team player" and "a role model on and off the court."
Davis grew up in Louisville, Ky., where he starred at Kentucky Country Day. He was elected team captain his senior season and along with his all-state honors was the recipient of the Coaches' Award and the team's Most Valuable Player. With all of Davis' success on the court and his stellar grades in the classroom he had many college coaches clamoring for his services. On Davis' official visit to Michigan State he was drawn to the family atmosphere of the tennis team as well as the many student-athlete help services.
"What separated Michigan State was the team chemistry along with the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete center," said Davis. "I really liked the idea of having these great academic resources."
The Clara Bell Smith Center is a nationally-recognized resource center that offers a wide range of services to student-athletes including: academic counseling, tutoring, career planning, and more. This was important to Davis because he realized the potential career opportunities that awaited him if he were to earn a degree from MSU.
"Being a student always comes first because most of us aren't going to make a career out of tennis," Davis said. "We would love to but it's such a hard sport to do it in. We all know that Michigan State academically can take us much further in life than athletics can. The Clara Bell Smith Center is helping us with that in many ways."
Once Davis committed to the Spartans it took him no time to find his niche on the court. As a freshman he posted 13 total wins in singles.
In 2013, Davis had a career high 10 total wins in singles and was a key reason why the Spartans qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
"It was one of those experiences I'll never forget and I'm sure Coach and everyone else would say the same," said Davis. "It's such a challenge to get there and that's part of why it's such an unbelievable experience."
With much of the team returning this year Davis has not been wary in expressing his confidence in their chances of making a return to the tournament.
"Hopefully we're going to be able to get there again because this year's team is even better," Davis said. "We all know what it's going to take. That's the advantage of making it last year is that now we know how much hard work and dedication we are going to need."
Despite being a senior leader, Davis says he does not feel any added pressure to get after guys to focus or work hard.
"We're all so close-knit that it's not just one person that takes control," he said. "There are a lot of freshmen and sophomores that help bring up our seniors and vice versa. There is definitely a lot of team chemistry with the guys on our team."
One of Davis' most memorable moments as a Spartan came in January of 2013 when he returned to his home state of Kentucky for the ITA Kickoff Tournament in Lexington. In front of friends and family he defeated Ben Barnette of South Carolina 6-4, 6-2.
Head coach Gene Orlando echoed how special this moment was.
"It was a great moment when he clinched the match against South Carolina," Orlando said. "We were in Kentucky and he's from Kentucky so it was special for him, his family and for all of us."
After Davis' playing career at MSU comes to a conclusion, he plans on seeking higher education and becoming a tennis graduate assistant.
"I'm planning on going to grad school for business," Davis said. "I would like to do sports marketing. Being in the tennis world my whole life and having that sports background will help me. The fact that I graduated from a Big Ten school with a great network of people will help me find a job."
With Davis unsure of whether he will be back at Michigan State next year he reflected on what this team and this school has meant to him.
"I'm going to miss hanging out with all of the guys all the time," Davis said. "We've all developed great friendships. I'm also going to miss the beautiful campus and everything that goes on here. We have a great connection with the other teams on campus here. I love being a part of this school and being able to support the university."
Davis' dedication to being a good teammate has not gone unnoticed. Orlando spoke about what Davis has meant to the team.
"He has always been a team guy," Orlando said. "He's always looking to help his teammates in any way he can. That's the biggest thing he's given to the program is he's always looking out for other students."