May 7, 2014
By Hanna Sprague, MSU Athletic Communications student assistant
A Wisconsin native, Michigan State senior Drew Lied made the trip to East Lansing four years ago to absorb all of the opportunities MSU had to offer. Little did he know, Michigan State would take him on a journey that would shape him into the man he is today.
Lied's athletic journey began at the age of four. He was a strong athlete, playing tennis, soccer, and basketball. When he got to high school, however, he knew he wanted to pursue tennis.
"I didn't get too many offers from a lot of other schools and I really wanted to go to a big university. Coach O (Orlando) gave me the opportunity - he was the only Big Ten coach to give me an offer," Lied says.
"Beginning his freshman year, Drew had to earn his sixth spot," said MSU men's tennis head coach Gene Orlando. "He really has continued to raise his game each season and that's culminating to his senior year, with qualifying for All-Americans and playing one singles and one doubles. That's attributed to all of his hard work and dedication to making his game better."
After Lied's four successful seasons, playing both singles and doubles, Coach Orlando is assured the right decision was made when giving Lied the opportunity.
"Coach O has done a really good job helping me mature," noted Lied. "He's helped me with my game but, more importantly, the mental stuff. He has helped me become the man I am today."
Lied is a leader, no doubt about that. He influences his teammates in a way that every coach dreams. Lied always sees the glass half-full and pushes his teammates to do the same.
"He's basically been the guy that's been able to move the team. He continues to find the bright spots in trying to make us better and improve," ensured Coach Orlando.
Lied holds a strong relationship with his teammates, both on and off of the court.
"My core group of friends definitely comes from the tennis team," Lied said. "Our resilience is the thing that I value the most about this team. We're a good team and we hold very high expectations. Some of the things didn't fall our way, but at the end of the day, we gave it all we got."
A matchup that sits firmly in Lied's memories took place last season at the 2013 Big Ten Tennis Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
"We were playing Nebraska and we were right on the edge of getting into the NCAA Tournament. We had already lost three matches, but if we beat them, we'd make the NCAAs. I was down to this kid - big server, playing well - and somehow I was able to squeak it out and get the win," Lied recalls while smiling.
MSU defeated Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament and was able to earn an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the program's first-ever appearance in the tournament.
Moving ahead to 2014, Lied enjoyed riding in style as the tennis team made their final road trip of the 2014 season to Wisconsin and Minnesota in mid-April. The bus that had once served as the rock-band Kiss' tour bus contained 16 beds. The teammates were able to catch some shut-eye just like the old rock stars once had.
A love that began at the age of four, the 2014 All-Big Ten first team selection isn't ready to give up tennis quite yet.
"After graduation, I plan to keep playing tennis. I want to play in some pro tournaments and keep playing for as long as I can," Lied said. "I think a lot of people want to go pro, but they don't want to admit it, because people always say that you can't do it. You only get one shot at life, and I'm going to do what I like to do. There's no going back."
"I've changed a lot from my freshman year to my senior year. I think I've matured a lot and I've learned a lot of things. Most of the stuff I've learned comes from my teammates. I've, as we like to say, taken a page out of a lot of their books," said Lied when reflecting on his four years at Michigan State.
Michigan State has educated, influenced, and taught Lied more than he ever could have imagined. With his time winding down as a Spartan, Lied hopes to be remembered as a person who is committed to hard work and following his passions.
"The spotlight and the games are fun, but looking back, it's the journey and all the small things that you do that mean the most. The road trips, the jokes, the lifting each other up - that's the little stuff that I will remember about my time at Michigan State."