There will be one last swing of the tennis racket in the maroon and white of Mississippi State University for seniors Nuno Borges, Strahinja Rakic and Niclas Braun as they compete at the NCAA Individual Championships in Orlando, Florida.
Braun, a senior from Berlin, Germany, said this will be their last time in the uniforms of MSU as they compete. Braun said he will continue to wear it in his leisure time.
"It is always exciting, especially with you graduating to finish your college career. This is icing on the cake," Braun said. "One last time competing with my brothers. I won't take it for granted. I will just try to enjoy every minute."
Braun goes into the tournament playing in a doubles partnership with Giovanni Ordani, a junior from Rovereto, Italy. The other doubles pairing is Borges, a senior from Maia, Portugal, and Rakic, a senior from Belgrade, Serbia.
Rakic said the post season is always fun, and a high profile tournament like the NCAA Individual Championships is a big deal to him because of the quality of the competition.
"This is probably the best tournament of the year, and the most important tournament," Rakic said. "Everybody is playing the best players in the country. We are just excited to compete against the best players and be together for another week."
It will be the last time all three seniors play together. While it could possibly end in the first round for all of them or end in the final round, the focus on the task at hand is what head coach Matt Roberts is trying to teach going into the tournament.
Roberts said nothing lasts forever, and sometimes just a little lapse in concentration can lead to the end of a college career sooner than one would like to have happen.
"Sometimes it can end quicker than you think in your mind or expect," Roberts said. "I think for them they are just trying to marinate in the moment whenever they can and just appreciate what they have in front of them. I reminded them it is all about improving, and it's another opportunity to get better."
This is not the first tournament where MSU had a big representation, as Braun said jokingly they nearly brought the whole team to the fall ITA All-American Championships. The benefits of going as a group provide both a level of comfort and a special feeling.
With Borges and Rakic wanting to go pro and Braun wanting to become a banker, this is the grand finale of the trio's time as teammates.
"It is something very special. We are a close band of brothers," Braun said. "We ride it out one last time together. Like we have said, we try to enjoy every moment of it and not take anything for granted."