03 Dec 2021 | 07:15 | Tennis
Standing at 6-foot-4 and tipping the scales at 200-plus pounds, you’d be forgiven for thinking Gustav Theilgaard is the next top linebacker recruit for the Montana football team.
He’s also just the kind of imposing athlete Grizzly men’s tennis coach Jason Brown is looking for.
Theilgaard, already one of the top-ranked senior players in Denmark and a junior regional champion, recently signed an NLI to play tennis at Montana and is set to join the Grizzlies in the fall.
A native of Hillerod, Denmark, Theilgaard comes to Missoula with a Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) of 11.47, down slightly from January when he was rated at 12.17, numbers that already place him among the best in the Big Sky.
With proven success on the court, a goal of advancing on the professional ranks after college, and the frame of a linebacker, Brown says Theilgaard ticks all the boxes he looks for in a top-level recruit.
“Gustav has three things you just can’t teach. He’s a lefty, He’s big – like 6-foot-4, and he’s strong. He serves great, has a big forehand, absorbs pace really well with that strength,” Brown says.
“He’s a good doubles player and aspires to be a pro tennis player after college. That’s one thing we look for. It puts a little different focus on their tennis while they’re here, and that’s what we want to strive for, are guys coming here and seeing how good they can get.”
Theilgaard’s only experience with Montana to date has been via hours of internet research and calls with Brown.
But with other offers from programs like Boise State and Idaho State, the coaching at UM convinced him to choose where he wants to pursue both a degree in political science and professional tennis.
“I’ve only heard good things about Montana. It’s such a beautiful place, and I’m looking forward to getting there. I’ve only been on google maps, so I’m excited to see it in real life,” Theilgaard says.
“The first call I had with Jason had great chemistry, I think, and that’s one of the main reasons I chose Montana. I talked it over a lot with my family, but I always knew that Montana was the place for me. We just had a good feeling about it, so I’m just relieved that it’s locked in, and I can look forward to what’s next.”
When thinking of moving to a foreign country, it’s also nice to get the perspective of someone from your part of the world that can help put a mind at ease, so Theilgaard also spoke with Pontus Hallgren, who hails from nearby Sweden, to get his thoughts on moving to Montana.
“He said to me they have great team chemistry, and I think that’s very important for me. I want to play on a team where everyone is having fun, and there is a good relationship between the coaches and team,” Theilgaard added.
Born into a tennis family that still plays competitively to this day (his mother Janne is on the Danish national paddle tennis team), Theilgaard currently trains with the national Davis Cup senior team. He won the national junior doubles four times and the national junior team championship twice, using his size to his advantage.
“I’m a big guy and like to hit heavy shots and play aggressive tennis. I’ve built my game around my serve. I like to play doubles too. I think that’s really fun. Some guys don’t like doubles, but I like how fast the game is. It’s really fun,” he added.
Theilgaard is the second Grizzly set to join the roster in the fall of ’21, with Sam Baldwin from Australia also signing an NLI back in February. With Baldwin checking in at 6-foot-1, and now Theilgaard joining the roster at 6-4, Montana is set to add considerable height and athleticism to the squad.
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